The (5) Florida State Seminoles (22-2, 10-1 ACC) earned their ninth straight win in a hard fought 80-71 game against the (16) Miami Hurricanes (17-6, 6-5 ACC).
We have discussed Miami earlier. Since their last game against FSU the Canes have gone 6-3 with losses versus Notre Dame and at Louisville and Syracuse. Basically UM has beaten the teams it should have and lost the games in which they were underdogs. This game in Tallahassee is another game in which they were underdogs. However, Katie Meier always has her team ready to compete and that is what we saw tonight.
Miami came out well taking a quick 8-3 lead on the Noles that was capped by an Adrienne Motley jumper. FSU responded with a 6-0 run that ended with a Brittany Brown jumper. From there the two teams traded baskets until the Noles went on an 11-2 run to end the quarter that was punctuated by an Imani Wright three.
In the second quarter the Seminoles continued the run scoring the first four points before Sarah Mortensen hit a three for UM to cut FSU's lead to 24-15. From there FSU went on a 7-2 run that was capped by a three from Leticia Romero. Jessica Thomas came right back with a three of her own for the Canes. Brittany Brown and Shakayla Thomas scored on successive possessions for the Noles and then UM went on a 6-0 run that was sparked by an Erykah Davenport layup. After that the two teams mostly traded baskets and FSU went into halftime with a 40-32 lead.
UM hit FSU with a 7-2 run to start the third period. From there the two teams traded baskets until Khaila Prather hit a layup for the Canes to keep the game close with FSU holding a 54-51 lead.
In the final stanza Miami tied the score on their first shot when Keyona Hayes hit only her sixth three of the season to tie the game at 54. FSU responded in a big way with a 14-2 run to take a 68-56 lead with about six minutes to go. However, Miami refused to quit. The Canes answered with seven straight of their own. After Brittany Brown hit a pair of free throws, Sarah Mortensen hit a big corner three to keep the pressure on the Noles by cutting the lead to four. Shakayla Thomas came down and nailed a jumper for the Noles but Jessica Thomas responded immediately with a three ball to cut FSU's lead to three with a minute and a half left in the game. Chatrice White then got fouled down low for FSU and hit her free throws. When Thomas came down and missed a three for UM the Canes were reduced to fouling. FSU was able to go 5 for 6 from the line to ice the game.
The Noles got huge games from Chatrice White (19pts, 14reb) and Shakayla Thomas (19pts). Keyona Hayes (17pts) and Jessica Thomas (16pts) led UM.
Miami has a talented basketball team. However, FSU is elite. They proved tonight one of the big reasons why that is true. Simply put the Noles have more places to turn when in need of a bucket. Leticia Romero and Imani Wright were hobbled a bit by foul trouble and didn't have their usual impact on the game. However, FSU went repeatedly to Thomas and she delivered time after time. White was huge on the backboards. Her effort was a big reason the Seminoles had a 42-31 rebound advantage in the game. FSU is a very talented team playing at a high level. They are very much in the hunt for a #1 seed.
Speaking of that, the NCAA Tournament Selection Committee revealed the top 16 teams in their new S-curve tonight. FSU remained fifth behind UConn, Baylor South Carolina and Mississippi State. Baylor lost at home to (future FSU opponent) Texas tonight after the rankings were revealed. South Carolina and Mississippi St play in the same conference so they will knock each other off. Also USC has to play at UConn next Monday. Because of this Florida State will have the opportunity for a #1 seed if they can keep winning.
FSU welcomes Wake Forest (14-9, 5-5 ACC) to the TLCCC on Thursday, Feb 9th at 7pm. Sagarin has FSU as a 28 point favorite. Wake beat Pitt yesterday 57-48.