(24) Florida State (20-4, 8-3 ACC) was defeated by (4) Notre Dame (22-3, 9-2 ACC) by a 97-70 score today in South Bend, IN.
ND got out to a 7-2 lead after a triple from Marina Mabrey. Nicki Ekhomu immediately responded with a three of her own for FSU. However, the Irish would counter with six straight to take a 13-5 lead. Ekhomu nailed another three ball to stop the run. The two teams traded points until the middle of the quarter when Notre Dame went on a 7-0 run that was capped with a triple from Arike Ogunbowale. As a result, the Irish had a 22-12 lead. Kiah Gillespie ended the run with a three of her own. From there the two teams mostly traded baskets and the quarter ended with ND up 28-22.
As the score indicated, the first quarter was all about offense. The Irish were hitting shots and killing FSU in transition. However, the Noles were matching them almost shot for shot. FSU played great offensively in the quarter. Unfortunately the Seminoles were having no luck slowing down ND much less stopping them.
Early on in the second quarter FSU was able to keep it close courtesy of impressive offense from Nicki Ekhomu and Nausia Woolfolk. However, with 4:51 left in the quarter the Irish broke the game open with a 10-0 run. The first eight of those points came from Ogunbowale. Woolfolk ended the run with a three ball but the Seminoles were down 49-36 with a little more than two minutes left in the half. At halftime Notre Dame had a 52-38 lead.
FSU started the second half ice cold. Florida State started the third quarter 1-14 from the field. Valencia Myers scored the first points of the quarter to pull the Noles to within 12 at 52-40. However, FSU would not score again for six minutes. Woolfolk ended the long drought with a layup but the Seminoles were still down 67-42 as ND had gone on a 15-0 run.
Florida State kept competing but the game was basically decided at that point as the Irish cruised to their 97-70 victory.
FSU was led by Nicki Ekhomu’s 26 points and six assists. Kiah Gillespie had a double-double with 17 points and 11 boards. Nausia Woolfolk was the other Nole in double figures with 15 points.
Florida State played well enough offensively to win or at least keep it close. The Noles shot 41% from deep and were perfect (13-13) from the free throw line. The problem was that FSU could not stop Notre Dame at any point in this game. The Irish killed Florida State in transition off of turnovers, defensive rebounds and even made shots. FSU also struggled to keep ND out of the lane as time after time Irish guards penetrated and dished the ball for easy layups. Combine all of that with excellent shot making from All-American Arike Ogunbowale and it becomes clear how ND finished with 97 points.
This was a measuring stick game for the young Seminoles. It’s never fun to lose by 27 but there were some positives to take from this game. Notre Dame is clearly one of the best teams in the nation and FSU hung with them for about a quarter and a half. Florida State shot the ball well in this game. If they can keep that up going forward they will put themselves in good position to earn more wins in the conference.
Florida State clearly lost this battle but they might be winning the war. ESPN bracketologist Charlie Creme had FSU as the last #4 seed in the NCAA Tournament coming into the game. Even though the Noles got dump trucked today this game probably doesn’t hurt their seeding very much. FSU has five games left in the regular season and three of them (Clemson, Miami and Syracuse) are against teams that are probably in the Tournament. The last game of the year is against bubble team Georgia Tech. In other words, FSU has a chance to play themselves into or out of the top four seeding that would grant them home games in the Tournament. We will find out soon which direction the season takes them.
Florida State will travel to Clemson, SC to face the Clemson Tigers (15-8, 6-4 ACC) on Thursday at 7pm. The game will be broadcast on ACCNetwork Extra. Clemson upset FSU in Tallahassee 57-45 in January.