The (5) Notre Dame Fighting Irish (27-3, 15-1 ACC) defeated the (8) Florida State Seminoles (25-5, 13-3 ACC) 79-61 today in South Bend, IN.
Notre Dame jumped on Florida State early starting the game on a 12-3 run. The run was fueled by good ND shooting and turnovers from the Noles. This stretch would set the tone for the entire game as FSU was forced to play catch up the entire afternoon. The Seminoles fought back to cut the lead to five on an Ivey Slaughter layup but ND had the answer as they scored the next five points to stretch the lead back to double digits. The Irish ended the quarter with a 25-15 lead.
ND started the second quarter on another run and midway through the quarter FSU was down 36-20 after a Kathryn Westbeld jumper. FSU kept battling but they still faced a 43-30 deficit at the half.
In the third quarter ND was able to stretch the lead to 19 a couple of times but FSU kept playing. The Noles went on an 8-0 run to end the third and cut the lead to 59-48 on a Shakayla Thomas made jumper.
Thomas made another jumper to start the fourth and FSU was within nine. Unfortunately for the Seminoles they would never get closer as the Irish had an answer for every FSU run. After Brittany Brown hit a jumper midway through the quarter to cut the lead to 64-55, ND finished the game on a 15-6 run to win the game by the final 79-61 score.
There will be attention on FSU's offense after this performance. Some of that will be warranted as the Noles didn't shoot particularly well overall including 4-14 from three. However, the Noles could never get into this game primarily because of their defensive shortcomings. The Noles simply had no answer for Brianna Turner in particular. We have known all year that FSU was a relatively small team that may have trouble dealing with an aggressive post player. That Achilles heel showed up in a big way today. Turner was dominant, especially early, finishing with a team high 24 points, six boards and five blocks. Many of those points were courtesy of wide open layups.
The Irish also shot 10-18 from three. When they shoot that well from three, especially at home it's lights out for the opponent.
Shakayla Thomas was back from her shoulder injury. She looked a bit rusty at times but the good news is that it didn't seem like the injury was hampering her all that much. She should be good to go for the ACC Tournament.
This was obviously not the performance FSU was looking for to end the season. However, the good news for the Seminoles is that even with this loss they will be the second seed in the ACC Tournament and get the double bye. Therefore the Tournament for FSU will begin on March 3rd in Conway, SC (the event was moved from NC due to the HB2 bathroom bill) in the quarterfinals. The game will be carried on RSN and the ACCN Extra (ESPN 3).
Stay tuned to TN as we will have more on the Tourney leading up to the games.