This was one of the weirdest games that I have seen in quite a while.
- The winning team started in a 21-4 hole.
- The MVP of the game had the following line: 11 points, 8 rebounds, 9 steals.
- The Pac12 record holder for three point shots made went 0-10 from deep.
- The winning team went 0-5 from 3 point range.
- The winning team was outrebounded 42-35.
However, Florida State doesn't care. The (3) Seminoles (28-6) defeated the (2) Oregon State Beavers (31-5) 66-53 to move on to the Elite 8.
This game started out in nightmare fashion for the Noles. The Beavers hit FSU with that 21-4 run and FSU found themselves down 17 points with 2:36 remaining in the first quarter. OSU was running their offense with impressive precision. They were finding cutters for layups and they were hitting midrange shots. Players like Mikayla Pivec, Kolbie Orum and Katie McWilliams are usually role players but they were stepping up big time in the first quarter.
Defensively the Beavers were causing all kinds of trouble for FSU with their size. The Noles were going to the basket and getting met with resistance at the rim. FSU was also struggling to hit midrange shots. All of this added up to the great advantage that the Beavers were able to maintain in the first quarter.
However, the Seminoles were finally able to adjust. After falling behind 21-4 the Noles went on a much needed 8-2 run to end the quarter. The run was started by a Brittany Brown jumper and ended by four straight points from Leticia Romero.
In the second quarter Florida State turned up their defense. The Noles held Oregon State to less than 30% shooting in the quarter. The Beavers shot 56% in the first quarter. The main reason is that FSU stopped giving up layups and made the Beavs take contested shots.
On the offensive end the Seminoles started hitting the midrange jumpers that were rimming out in the first quarter. They also made a much better impression on boards. Several times they got offensive rebounds and benefited from second shots. This allowed the Noles to fight back into the game and at halftime they trailed OSU by only five points at 35-30.
After intermission FSU really took hold of the game. Ivey Slaughter started it off by immediately intercepting a pass and raced to the other end for a layup. On the next play Shakayla Thomas made a steal and converted it into points. The Noles were now down only one. A couple of minutes later Romero came down and nailed a jumper to give FSU a 36-35 lead that they would never relinquish. FSU started the third quarter with an 8-0 run that was broken by an Orum jumper. After that the Noles went on another 8-0 run that was capped by a couple of free throws from Thomas. OSU responded with five straight points to close the gap to 46-42 going into the fourth quarter. FSU's defense was superb in the third quarter. They held the Beavers to only seven points in the quarter.
In the fourth, both teams started out cold. Orum broke the ice with another jumper to cut FSU's lead to only two. The Beavers tied the score at 46 on a pair of Gabby Hanson free throws. FSU responded with a pair of jumpers from Shakayla Thomas and Imani Wright. The two teams mostly traded baskets after that until FSU went on an 8-0 spurt to take a 62-51 lead with only 56 seconds left. From there OSU was reduced to fouling and Brittany Brown and Leticia Romero hit two free throws apiece to seal the victory.
FSU was led in scoring by Romero who had 18 points on 8-12 shooting. Thomas had a double-double with 12 points and 11 rebounds. Ivey Slaughter was the MVP for the Noles. The senior had 11 points, 8 rebounds, and 9 steals. Her defense gave the Noles the spark that they desperately needed to get back into this game when it looked like they were on the verge of getting run out of the gym.
Oregon State was led by Kolbie Orum's 12 points and seven rebounds. Star player Sydney Wiese was held to nine points on 3-14 shooting, 0-10 3PT.
One word describes how FSU was able to turn this game around: defense. The Noles had 16 steals (OSU had 4) and they forced OSU into a whopping 23 turnovers. They also forced the Beavers into 2-17 shooting (11.8%) from deep.
This game really turned on a dime. After the disasterous start the Noles outscored OSU 62-32 for the rest of the game. The Seminoles really need to figure out how to avoid such slow starts but they deserve big credit for the comeback. They proved that they are never out of a game.
(3) Florida State will meet (1) South Carolina in the Elite 8. The Gamecocks routed Quinnipiac 100-58 in the first game in Stockton. This will be the second time in three years that these two teams have met in the Elite 8. In 2015 South Carolina beat FSU 80-74 in Greensboro to advance to their first Final Four in school history. The Seminoles will be seeking to flip that script in two days.
The game will be shown on ESPN at 9pm on Monday, March 27. We will have more leading up to this massive game as FSU will be seeking to advance to the first Final Four in program history.