No. 22 Florida State (24-7, 11-7 ACC) defeated No, 4 Louisville (28-4, 16-2 ACC) today in the ACC Tournament semifinal by a 62-60 score. The Seminoles advance to the ACC Tournament final to meet the winner of the Boston College/North Carolina State semifinal game:
“Proud of the way our team battled,” FSU head coach Sue Semrau said. “Louisville is an excellent team. After going up there and pulling out a win I knew they would come out with a lot of fire. They did, but we matched it. I’m proud of my seniors. They are something else. They were not going to be denied today. You saw Nausia go down. I thought she might be out. You saw Kiah go down. We’re still looking into her.
“But they battled, and I’m guessing, yeah, that we won the rebounding battle and that was huge. I’m just really, really proud of them. Ready for tomorrow.”
Florida State got off to a hot start in this game. The Seminoles started the game on a 7-0 run that was capped by a jumper from Kiah Gillespie. The Cardinals answered with an 8-2 run to pull within one. The Noles responded with a 9-2 run to end the quarter to take an 18-10 lead going into the second quarter.
The teams started the second quarter by trading three pointers. From there ACC player of the year Dana Evans took over for UL. The junior guard scored eight straight points as the Cards went on a 10-0 run to take a 23-21 lead. Nausia Woolfolk broke the run with a triple. From there the two teams traded baskets until Sammie Puisis had a three that was halfway down before popping out. Evans got the rebound and raced down the court with eight seconds left. Evans went coast to coast and slipped in a layup that beat the buzzer to tie the game at 30 going into the halftime break.
The game stayed tight early in the third quarter. However with 7:39 left in the quarter the Noles made a move. FSU hit the Cards with a 10-0 run that was capped by an old-fashioned three point play from River Baldwin that gave the Seminoles a 42-35 lead. From there the two teams traded buckets until Yacine Diop hit a three late in the quarter to cut FSU’s lead to 48-43.
Diop’s triple sparked Louisville to a 10-0 run that gave the Cardinals a 50-48 lead. Kiah Gillespie ended the run with a tip-in that tied the game at 50. From there the teams traded baskets until with 28 seconds left FSU had the ball in the frontcourt down 56-55. Nausia Woolfolk executed a pick and roll with Gillespie. UL switched on the action and center Kylee Shook was forced to guard Woolfolk on the perimeter. Woolfolk drove and spun to get open eventually dumping the ball down to Gillespie who was posting up on the smaller Diop who had switched on her after the pick and roll. Diop undercut Gillespie as the pass came in and Gillespie fell to the floor hard seemingly landing on her tailbone. Diop was called for the foul. Gillespie stayed on the ground in pain and eventually had to be helped off the court and into the locker room. Kourtney Weber came off the bench cold and was asked to hit the free throws with FSU down a point. Weber hit both pressure free throws to give the Noles a one point lead.
UL coach Jeff Walz called a timeout to advance the ball. On the ensuing in bounds play Weber deflected the in bounds pass and Nicki Ekhomu snatched up the loose ball. Ekhomu was fouled immediately and she hit both free throws to give the Noles a 59-56 lead. Dana Evans went coast to coast and was fouled with 20 seconds left by Morgan Jones. Evans hit both shots to pull the Cards within one at 59-58. After a timeout to advance the ball Jazmine Jones fouled Woolfolk to stop the clock. Woolfolk hit both shots to give FSU a three point lead. Louisville advanced the ball and Jazmine Jones hit a midrange jumper with 11 seconds left. UL fouled Ekhomu to stop the clock and the Seminole senior split a pair of free throws to give the Noles a two point lead at 62-60. The Cards called timeout to advance the ball. FSU defended the in bounds pass well forcing Louisville to pass the ball into the back court with seven seconds left. Evans raced up court defended by Morgan Jones. Evans got off a runner in the lane that wouldn’t go. Jazmine Jones got the rebound for UL but her put back was no good. Woolfolk knocked the ball away from the hoop as time expired and Florida State celebrated a huge 62-60 upset win:
Nausia Woolfolk led FSU with 16 points, four rebounds and four assists. Kiah Gillespie had a huge double double with 15 points and 16 boards. Nicki Ekhomu had 14 points and five assists:
FSU won the rebounding battle (36-31) which overcame the 15 turnovers committed by the Noles. UL lost a game in which they shot 7-12 (58.3%) from deep. Overall UL shot 40.4% from the field while FSU shot 40.7%. The difference in this nail biter was that FSU shot two more shots than the Cards.
FSU becomes the only team besides Notre Dame to beat the Cards twice in one year since they joined the ACC.
This game was huge on its own because the Seminoles stayed alive for their first ACC championship. However, it was also big because it improves FSU’s chances to get a top four seed in the NCAA Tournament and the home games that come with it.
Unfortunately, Gillespie went down late in the game and didn’t return to the game although she did return to the bench from the locker room. If she is out for tomorrow’s final it will obviously negatively impact FSU’s chances to win the ACC championship but it could also hurt Florida State’s chances of getting a top four seed in the NCAA Tournament.
The NCAA Tournament Committee generally awards invitations to the tournament based on resume. They in turn use that resume, along with other evidence, to construct an S-Curve which they use to seed the teams that make the Tournament. The seeding is meant to reflect the relative strengths of the teams. In effect the S-Curve is the committee’s power poll. The S-Curve is meant to be prospective in nature. Therefore, it reflects the Committee’s feelings in which teams are the strongest at the present time. It is important to understand that the Committee can take into account anything they want when they are constructing the S-Curve. That includes injuries that may impact a particular team’s performance going forward. That’s where Gillespie’s injury becomes important. If she can’t play in the NCAA Tournament that could have a negative impact on FSU’s seed.
Regardless, the Seminoles have seemingly shaken off whatever bad vibes they had going on that contributed to them struggling to a finish of the season where they lost 3 of their last 5 games. They are executing on offense at a level similar to where they were when they were winning 13 straight games to begin the season. If the Noles can keep this up they can contend with anyone in the nation:
FSU will play the winner of the NC State/Boston College game in the ACC Tournament Final tomorrow at Noon. The game will be broadcast on ESPN2: