(4) South Carolina (23-9) defeated (5) Florida State (24-9) 72-64 today to advance to the Sweet 16. FSU will regroup and prepare for next season.
FSU got off to a good start in this one. The Noles went on an early 7-0 run that was sparked by a Nicki Ekhomu triple to take a 7-3 lead. USC responded as Te’a Cooper would eventually hit a three to pull the Gamecocks within one at 11-10. From there the Noles went on another 7-0 run this time sparked by a Kourtney Weber layup. South Carolina answered with seven straight points from Cooper to cut the lead to one at 18-17. After a Nausia Woolfolk jumper, Mikiah Herbert Harrigan hit a triple to tie the game at 20 after one quarter.
The second quarter started with the teams trading baskets. However, Mikiah Herbert Harrigan scored the last four points of the quarter to give the Gamecocks a 37-30 lead at halftime.
Midway through the third quarter FSU made a 9-1 run to pull the Noles within one at 45-44. USC responded with four quick points but Morgan Jones hit a layup to make the score 49-46. Jones ended the period with another transition layup to end the period with FSU down one at 52-51.
South Carolina started the fourth quarter with a couple of layups from Alexis Jennings. Jones answered with another layup to pull the Seminoles within three at 56-53. From there the two teams mostly traded baskets until Jones got an offensive rebound and a putback to tie the score at 60 with 4:07 left. Unfortunately for FSU the game ended with USC going on a 12-4 run to win the game 72-64.
Kiah Gillespie came up big for FSU with another double-double (15pts, 18reb). Nicki Ekhomu had 19 points. Morgan Jones had a career high 15 points.
The only reason that Florida State was even in this game was because the Noles dominated South Carolina on the boards to the tune of 50-33. FSU had 27 offensive rebounds to USC’s 10.
Unfortunately it wasn’t enough as the Noles struggled again from three only going 3-14 from deep. FSU really needed to have a good shooting day to pull the upset and it didn’t happen.
A couple more numbers that stand out are the 76 total shots that the Noles had. All those offensive rebounds translated into that big number. FSU also had 23 fouls called against them (14 for USC) and that hurt especially as Valencia Myers fouled out and Kiah Gillespie had four. It hindered FSU’s defense inside that their two post players couldn’t be aggressive defensively because of foul trouble.
However, overall the Seminoles acquitted themselves well today. Rebounding is mostly about desire and the fact that FSU did so well in that category showed how much they wanted this game. It was impressive as the Noles didn’t have any particular physical or athletic advantage in the game. Many of those rebounds were a simple product of hustle and desire.
This game stings but this season and this game in particular have provided plenty of evidence that proves that the future is bright for FSU. We will have more on this season and the current state of the program soon.