Florida State 13-1 (2-1, ACC) fell to Syracuse 7-6 (1-1, ACC) tonight in the Carrier Dome by a 90-89 score.
Syracuse started the game on fire from outside the arc. The Cuse hit four of their first five three point attempts to jump out to an early 13-6 lead. From there the two teams traded baskets until the Orange went on a 10-3 run to end the quarter having built a 26-16 lead.
The Noles cut the lead to five by starting the second quarter on a 7-2 run. However, the Orange countered with six straight points to establish an 11 point lead at 34-23. Nausia Woolfolk broke the run with a layup and that sparked a quick 7-2 run for FSU. A Teisha Hyman layup snapped the run but the Noles finished the half on a 7-0 run to pull within one at 38-37.
The two teams mostly exchanged baskets to begin the third quarter. However, the Cuse made a move with about six and a half minutes left in the quarter. Amaya Finklea-Guity hit a layup that sparked the Orange to an 8-0 run and allowed them to take a 50-43 lead. After that the teams mostly traded baskets until FSU ended the quarter on a 10-2 run to take a 61-56 lead into the fourth quarter.
The two teams mostly traded baskets in the fourth quarter with FSU maintaining a small lead. With a minute left Kiah Gillespie hit a pair of free throws to put FSU up six at 79-73. Digna Strautmane answered with a triple for Syracuse. Before her shot the Cuse had missed 15 straight threes. Valencia Myers was fouled on the ensuing possession and made one of two. Gabrielle Cooper was fouled on the next possession by Gillespie when Cooper stuck her leg out on a jumper and suckered the refs into making a call. Cooper hit both free throws but the Noles still held an 80-78 lead. Myers was again fouled on FSU’s next possession and she again made one of two. Syracuse got the rebound and Strautmane drilled a triple from the top of the key to tie the game at 81. FSU called a timeout and advanced the ball with three seconds left. Nicki Ekhomu received the inbounds pass and launched a three that was blocked by Strautmane. Gillespie collected the ball and put up a desperate shot from about 16 feet but it missed and the game went to overtime.
In the overtime the teams mostly traded baskets until Kiara Lewis hit a driving layup with 17 seconds left to give the Orange an 88-87 lead. FSU took a timeout to advance the ball. Ekhomu eventually passed the ball to Gillespie in the post. Gillespie didn’t catch it cleanly but she gathered it then split a pair of defenders to hit a tough shot at the rim to give the Noles an 89-88 lead.
With .8 seconds left, Syracuse took a timeout and advanced the ball. They inbounded it from the sideline. Teisha Hyman was the inbounder. Kiara Lewis set a back screen on London Clarkson who was guarding Emily Engstler. Engstler cut to the basket with Nausia Woolfolk trailing. Lewis found her with the alley-oop pass and Engstler put if off the backboard and into the basket as the buzzer sounded and Syracuse had the 90-89 upset.
Kiah Gillespie had a great game leading the Noles with a 27 point, 12 rebound double-double. Nausia Woolfolk had 19 points and six boards while Nicki Ekhomu chipped in with 17 points and seven assists.
Syracuse is much better than their record. The Cuse have six losses but four of them were to #2 Oregon, #5 Stanford, #7 Louisville and #19 West Virginia. Another loss was to formerly ranked Michigan. The loss to Louisville was on the road and only by four points.
The Noles fell behind early when Syracuse was hot from three but FSU had the heart to comeback to take control of the game when the Orange cooled off. However, Florida State let the game slip away at the free throw line. The Seminoles were 2 for 6 from the charity stripe in the overtime and that was a major reason for the loss as the Orange were 5 for 6 from the free throw line in the overtime period.
Florida State will surely feel like they let this one get away. Other than the free throw shooting, coach Sue Semrau will be disappointed that her team let the Cuse get an alley-oop layup on the last basket of the game. Syracuse executed a simple play that worked because the Noles failed to communicate defensively.
This loss is a heartbreaker but it will not sink the season. This team has too much heart for that to happen. However, this illustrates how tough the ACC will be this year especially on the road.
Florida State will attempt to regroup when they travel to Coral Gables to face the #23 Miami Hurricanes (9-4, 1-1 ACC). The game will tip at 2pm on Sunday. The Canes fell tonight in Atlanta to Georgia Tech 61-54.