The North Carolina State Wolfpack (18-5, 7-3 ACC) defeated the (10) Florida State Seminoles (18-4, 6-3 ACC) in Raleigh 65-56 tonight.
NC State is a team that hangs its hat on defense. The Wolfpack rank 17th nationally in DPPP (FSU is 85th). The Pack isn’t as good offensively at 96th in OPPP (FSU is 6th). The Wolfpack are a methodical team that is more than willing to take most of the shot clock to get the shot they want.
The Pack are led by 6’2 senior forward Chelsea Nelson. Nelson leads NC State in scoring (12.9ppg) and rebounding (9.5rpg). Nelson is an old-school wing who doesn’t take many threes but she has a nice mid-range game and she knows how to score down low. Akela Maize is a 6’5 senior who joins Nelson on the front line. Maize (10ppg, 5.5rpg) presents matchup problems with her size and flashes a nice touch around the basket. Aislinn Konig and Kiara Leslie are the players to watch in the backcourt. Konig is a 5’9 shooting guard who is the Pack’s most prolific three point shooter (.358). She is mostly a perimeter player who rarely goes to the line averaging 10.3ppg. The 6’0 Leslie is the Pack’s second leading scorer (12.0) and rebounder (6.0).
The game started out close as the teams mostly traded baskets early. The Noles led 18-15 after the first quarter. However, Shakayla Thomas picked up two fouls in the quarter which led to her spending more time than usual on the bench.
Ending the first quarter and starting the second quarter the Pack hit FSU with a 10-2 run to take a 23-20 lead on a Kiara Leslie layup. From there the two teams traded baskets until FSU took a 26-25 lead into halftime on a Nausia Woolfolk layup that beat the buzzer.
Starting the second half the Wolfpack hit FSU with an 11-0 run that was capped by a Kaila Ealey layup to give the Pack a 36-26 advantage. AJ Alix stopped the bleeding with a triple and Thomas followed up with a jumper to pull the Noles within five. From there the Pack scored five straight of their own but the Seminoles answered with an 8-0 run to end the period down only two at 41-39.
In the fourth the Noles briefly took a 42-41 lead on an Ama Degbeon three point play. From there the teams mostly traded baskets until the Pack made their move with about four minutes left in the game. The Pack went on an 11-3 run which essentially won the game for them. NC State was up 58-50 at this point. Chatrice White hit a triple to make it 58-53 but the Noles couldn’t defend without fouling and the Pack took advantage. NC State was 20-25 from the line for the game but they were 7-8 in the last minute and were able to shut the door on the Noles to take the game 65-56.
Florida State is normally a very potent offensive team. As noted above they are 6th nationally in OPPP. However, unless they Noles are getting transition baskets the majority of that offense will be on jumpers. This is because FSU doesn’t have reliable inside scoring and they don’t have players who can consistently drive to the basket. What they do have are several players who can knock down jumpers. However, when those shots aren’t falling there isn’t a reliable Plan B. That deficiency showed up tonight in a big way.
Florida State was only 33.3% from the field (23.1%, 3PT). Even though they won the rebounding battle (39-34) FSU isn’t going to win many games shooting that poorly. FSU scored only .767 points per possession in this game. The Noles are only average defensively so it will be tough to beat good teams if the offense isn’t clicking.
The other big problem in this game was foul trouble. Thomas was in foul trouble the entire game and only played 18 minutes. The Noles were a different team with her on the court but she simply couldn’t play enough tonight.
The Seminoles were ranked #8 tonight in the NCAA Selection Committee’s second reveal. The reveal happened before tonight’s loss. This means that the Noles would be in line for a #2 seed based on these rankings.
FSU will attempt to return to their winning ways when they travel to Pittsburgh to take on the Panthers on Sunday at 1pm. The game will be broadcast on Fox Sports Florida. Pitt (10-13, 2-8 ACC) handled Clemson tonight 58-42. Sagarin has FSU as a 19.5 point favorite.