(17) Syracuse (21-7, 10-5 ACC) defeated (22) Florida State (21-7, 9-6 ACC) tonight by a 94-88 score in the Tallahassee Leon County Civic Center.
The game started out tight as neither team could stretch a lead beyond four points. However Syracuse ended the first quarter on a 6-0 run that was sparked by one of Tiana Mangakahia’s many layups. The run allowed the Cuse to take a 22-18 lead into the second quarter.
Early in the second quarter Valencia Myers sparked FSU to a 10-2 run that allowed the Noles to take a 28-26 lead. From there the teams mostly traded baskets until the Seminoles went on a 7-0 run to take a 37-31 lead. The Cuse responded with five straight points. After a Kiah Gillespie jumper, Mangakahia scored the last four points of the half to give the Orange a 40-39 lead going into halftime.
The two teams started the third quarter by exchanging baskets. However midway through the quarter Tiana Mangakahia sparked the Orange to a 6-0 run with another layup. Morgan Jones answered for the Noles with an old fashioned three point play on a nice drive to the basket through contact. The two teams traded layups until Mangakahia nailed consecutive triples to give the Cuse a 67-58 lead. Myers ended the quarter with a couple free throws but FSU was still down 67-60 entering the fourth quarter.
Syracuse stretched the lead to 71-60 on two quick buckets. From there the two teams mostly traded baskets until FSU made a move midway through the quarter. The Noles hit Syracuse with a 13-2 run to tie the score at 79 with a little over four minutes left in the fourth quarter. After that the two teams traded baskets until Tiana Mangakahia took over for the Cuse. With 1:05 left and the score tied at 85, the Orange point guard personally outscored FSU 9-3 to seal the game for the Cuse.
Nausia Woolfolk led the Noles with 29 points. Valencia Myers chipped in with 19 while Kiah Gillespie added 20.
Tiana Mangakahia was brilliant for Syracuse with 44 points, eight assists and five boards. This was the second year in a row that FSU has allowed a Cuse player to score a career high. Last year it was Miranda Drummond who lit FSU up for 38 points. Drummond only had four tonight.
Syracuse is a team that normally takes about 30 threes a game. They lead the ACC in threes taken and made. FSU was obviously aware of this stat and the Noles did a great job denying the Orange opportunities beyond the arc as the Cuse only had nine attempts tonight making only four. Unfortunately that left driving lanes open and Mangakahia was able to take advantage for layups time after time.
Syracuse won the game due to Tiana Mangakahia’s excellence and great shooting by the entire team (62.5% FG). FSU stayed in the game because they mostly handled the Orange pressure well and they had 16 second chance points due to great work on the offensive boards. FSU had more offensive rebounds than defensive reboounds (15 to 14) largely because SU refused to miss.
FSU played well offensively. Myers displayed impressive footwork on several post moves. Gillespie showed her usual range and offensive variety. Woolfolk was fearless as usual taking it to the cup and Nicki Ekhomu was generally good orchestrating the offense. Even Jones was more aggressive than usual getting in the lane for layups. When you score 88 points you are supposed to win, especially at home.
FSU didn’t win because of defense but also because Syracuse - Tiana Mangakahia in particular - was great offensively. She just wouldn’t let her team lose. The Noles tried a half court jump trap at the end of the game to try to take the ball out of her hands but she always found a way to get it back. She was obviously the difference throughout the game but she was positively lethal in the last minute with those nine points to close it out.
The loss drops FSU to sixth place in the ACC with only one game to play. The Noles are now eliminated from any chance to get the double-bye in the ACC Tournament.
Florida State will travel to Atlanta to take on Georgia Tech (17-11, 7-8 ACC) on Sunday at 1pm. The game will be broadcast on ACCNetwork Extra. The Jackets fell tonight in Miami by a 69-56 score.