The (16) Miami Hurricanes (23-7, 10-6 ACC) defeated the (8) Florida State Seminoles (25-6, 13-3 ACC) 56-54 in the ACC quarterfinals.
The Seminoles got off to a nightmare start in this game. The Noles started the game with three straight turnovers and trailed 6-0 before even taking a shot. Miami's pressure which the Canes used for the entire game bothered FSU early and Coach Sue Semrau was forced to take an early timeout to settle the team down. After that FSU recovered fairly well but the Noles were still down 18-13 after the first quarter.
In the second quarter FSU was able to cut the lead to two after a Shakayla Thomas jumper but the Noles could never completely get over the hump. UM quickly responded with a 6-0 run to take an eight point lead. At the half the lead remained at eight for Miami at 33-25.
In the third quarter the two teams mostly traded baskets until Thomas cut the lead to 42-37 with a layup. Then Laura Cornelius erupted for the Canes. The sophomore guard scored the final six points of the quarter for UM to give Miami a 48-40 lead going into the fourth.
In the fourth the Noles turned up their defense. They held the Hurricanes to eight points in the quarter. This allowed FSU to close the gap as the Seminoles went on an 11-4 run to cut the lead to 56-54 on a Leticia Romero triple with 1:53 left in the game. The score was still 56-54 with four seconds left when Ivey Slaughter was fouled. Slaughter, an 84% free throw shooter missed the first. She then had to miss the second intentionally and Miami got the rebound. FSU was reduced to fouling to stop the clock but time ran out on FSU's comback attempt.
Leticia Romero led FSU with 14 points, 6 rebounds and 5 assists. Shakayla Thomas had 13 points. Keyona Hayes and Adrienne Motley paced Miami with 12 points apiece.
Florida State had trouble shooting for much of the game. Some of it was bad luck as a few shots just rimmed out. However, FSU was taking jumpers while Miami was getting layups. The Noles mostly solved Miami's pressure except for the first couple of minutes of the game but FSU got few free points in transition so UM never really had to pay for pressing so much.
The Noles won the battle of the boards (34-30) and only committed three more turnovers than the Canes but FSU lost this game in large part at the free throw line. UM went 5-7 at the line while the Noles were a pitiful 2-7.
FSU will now wait to see who they will be hosting in Tallahassee in the NCAA Tournament. They will also be interested to see what region they land in as well as what seed they will get. I think a #3 seed is most likely but a 2 seed is still possible depending on what happens in conference tournaments around the nation.
The Noles simply must be more aggressive in the NCAA Tournament if they want to avoid an early exit. Romero and Thomas must be the primary options offensively. Romero needs to be more personally aggressive but FSU needs to do a better job getting her shots. If that means running more plays for her then so be it.
The Women's NCAA Tournament reveal show will be on Monday, March 13th on ESPN.