The (#7) Florida State Seminoles (16-2, 4-1 ACC) defeated the (#9) Louisville Cardinals (15-4, 3-2 ACC) 72-65 in the TLCCC.
In women's basketball because most players stay four years it is usually very difficult to have top recruiting classes year after year. The top players want to play right away therefore it is hard to recruit top talent every year because you can't sell playing time. Louisville coach Jeff Walz has bucked this trend. Under his direction the Cardinals had the 8th best class (2014), 2nd best class (2015), 6th best class (2016) and they currently have the 4th best class in 2017.
Recruiting this well it is no wonder that the Cards are loaded with talent. They have more top 100 recruits on their roster than any other team in the ACC. Louisville doesn't lose to mediocre or bad teams. Their losses are to #3 South Carolina, #5 Maryland and #13 Duke. Louisville is 25th nationally in offensive points per possession at 1.04 and 36th in defensive points per possession at .798. FSU is 6th in OPPP (1.106) and 8th in DPPP (.753)
They are led by 5'10 soph Asia Durr (17.3pg) and preseason ACC player of the year 6'2 junior Myisha Hines-Allen (13.7pg, 9.3rg). The conductor is 5'6 senior Briahanna Jackson (6.7pg, 4.7ast) while 6'0 junior Mariya Moore (12.1pg) does a little bit of everything. Louisville is a team that wins with excellent rebounding, superior talent and clutch shooting.
The game started off with both teams trading baskets. The Cardinals kept a small lead throughout the quarter but it never grew beyond four points. Louisville took a 14-13 lead into the second quarter after a Brittany Brown (12pts, 11reb, 7ast, 6stl) three ball.
The game remained tight in the second quarter until FSU hit the Cards with a quick 5-0 run punctuated by an Imani Wright (14pts) three that put the Noles up 21-16. Durr (21pts) quickly responded with three of her own and then FSU made a move. The Seminoles made a 10-2 run that was sparked by a layup from Wright to break out to a 31-21 lead with three minutes left in the quarter. After a Louisville timeout Kylee Shook hit her only shot of the game, a three, to cut into the FSU lead. The team traded baskets and ended the half with FSU leading 32-25.
Both teams started the second half cold. Brown got the Noles back on track with a three ball and FSU had a 10 point lead. However, the Cards weren't done. Louisville responded with a 13-2 run to take a 38-37 lead on another jumper from Durr. The teams traded baskets for the rest of the period until Shakayla Thomas (24pts, 8reb) hit a layup to give FSU a 47-45 lead going into the fourth.
In the fourth the teams traded baskets until the Noles made a small 6-0 run to take a 55-50 lead. UL responded with a big 9-0 run to take a 59-55 lead halfway through the quarter. The teams mostly traded baskets after that until the Seminoles took over the game with a 12-2 run in the last three and a half minutes to win it.
The Noles got big performances from Thomas and Brown who was only three assists shy of a triple-double. Chatrice White came up big defensively with four blocks. The Noles also forced Hines-Allen into a rare bad game. The all-ACC performer only had four points on 1-9 shooting. The Seminoles barely won the rebound battle (37-34) and forced the Cards into 19 turnovers while committing 17.
This game was a slugfest between two of the most talented teams in the nation. This is a game that the Seminoles could have lost but they showed the toughness to outlast a talented team who just wouldn't quit.
A concern for the Seminoles is that they played four players (Shakayla Thomas, Imani Wright, Brittany Brown and Leticia Romero) at least 35 minutes each. Off the bench only Chatrice White (20 minutes) and Maria Conde (10 minutes) played more than four minutes. FSU will need to develop more quality depth to compete successfully against the best teams in the nation.
Former 5* freshman forward Jasmine Walker has been granted her release by FSU. We will have more on this story as it develops.
Florida State will travel to Clemson to take on the Tigers at 2pm on Sunday, Jan 15th.