The Florida State Seminoles (23-4, 11-2 ACC) lose to the Virginia Cavaliers 60-51 (17-9, 6-7 ACC) in Charlottesville.
Florida State came into this game looking to erase the bad feeling left after their double OT loss to Texas on Monday. Instead the Noles now have to regroup after losing to a middle of the road UVA team.
FSU started the game well offensively as both Brittany Brown and Nicole Ekhomu sank three pointers to give the Noles an 11-6 lead. However, the Hoos came back with a 10-0 run to end the quarter and take a 16-11 lead after the first quarter.
FSU battled back in the second period and took a 22-20 lead on a Shakayla Thomas layup. After that the two teams mostly traded baskets and they ended the half tied at 26.
In the third quarter the Seminoles started off hot hitting UVA with a 9-2 run capped by a Brittany Brown layup. Then the teams traded baskets until the Cavaliers hit FSU with an 8-2 run to cut the lead to 41-39. The Noles regrouped and went on a small 5-2 run to take a 46-41 lead into the fourth. However, star junior Shakayla Thomas suffered a freak injury to her left shoulder with 2:27 left in the quarter. She crumpled to the floor and was helped immediately to the locker room. She later returned to the bench with her arm in a sling but she wouldn't return to the game. Her status for future games will be undetermined until she can undergo further evaluation.
In the fourth quarter things started to unravel for FSU. Ivey Slaughter started the quarter well hitting a layup to put the Noles up 48-41. From that point on the Cavs went on a 19-3 run to end the game. Leticia Romero hit a three midway through the quarter but other than that the Noles simply couldn't buy a bucket. The cold shooting Noles only scored five points in the final quarter and that sealed their fate.
Dominique Toussaint had a big game for the Hoos leading them with 14 points. Despite her injury Shakayla Thomas led FSU with 11 points while Ivey Slaughter and Brittany Brown both had 10.
FSU is in a slump right now. This is the second game in a row that FSU failed to shoot better than 35% from the field. In this game the Seminoles shot a putrid 4-23 (17.4%) from behind the arc. The Noles also got outrebounded for the second straight game. This time it wasn't close as UVA won the battle 42-32. FSU also struggled at the free throw line going 5-11. The percentage is too low but the number of shots from the line is way too low. The Cavs used a trapping zone defense for much of the game and it seemed to knock the Seminoles off stride. Leticia Romero and Imani Wright combined to go 2-19 from the field and 1-2 from the free throw line.
Simply put, FSU is not going to win too many games shooting this poorly and losing the rebounding battle. The injury to Thomas obviously hurt as she is FSU's top scorer but the Noles have too much talent to only score five points in a quarter whether or not Thomas plays.
This game likely ends any hopes FSU had for a #1 seed. However, the main goal (after just making the Tournament) is to get a top 4 seed in the Tournament and the home games in the first two rounds that come with the high seeding. The Seminoles are still very much in the running for a top 4 seed and can still win the ACC. Notre Dame beat Clemson tonight to take a one game lead on the Noles but if both teams win out FSU could still win the conference by beating ND in South Bend. Of course the Noles need to figure out their apparent issues before that game to have any shot at winning it.
The Noles will get their chance to right the ship on Saturday, Feb.18th when the Clemson Tigers come to Tallahassee. The game tips at 2pm and will be shown on ACC Network Extra (ESPN 3). The Noles beat the Tigers in Clemson 86-27 on January 15th. However, Clemson is playing much better basketball right now as they lost to Notre Dame tonight by only four (84-80).