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No. 22 FSU women’s basketball falls in the ACC Championship Game to No. 10 NC State

The Seminoles will now prepare for the NCAA Tournament

NCAA Womens Basketball: ACC Tournament NC State vs Florida State Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports

No. 22 Florida State (24-8, 11-7 ACC) was defeated by No. 10 NC State (28-4, 14-4 ACC) by a 71-66 score today in the ACC Championship game in Greensboro, NC.

Game Recap

The game started off tight as the teams mostly traded baskets early. However, Kiah Gillespie scored the last five points of the first quarter to give the Seminoles a 19-14 lead going into the second stanza.

The Wolfpack responded with five straight points to begin the second quarter to tie the game at 19. From there the teams traded baskets until midway through the quarter Nicki Ekhomu scored six straight points to put FSU ahead 30-26. Elissa Cunane eventually hit a three for the Pack to cut the lead to 30-29 at the half.

The third quarter started out similarly to the first as neither team could maintain a significant advantage. However, with about four minutes left in the quarter the Pack made a move. NCSU went on a 7-0 run to take a 45-39 lead. FSU answered with a 6-2 run to cut the Pack lead to 47-45 headed to the fourth quarter.

Nausia Woolfolk started the quarter with a triple to give the Noles a small lead. However, the Pack had a big answer going on a 7-0 run to take a 54-48 lead. Woolfolk broke the run with another three ball. From there the teams traded baskets until Sammie Puisis and Kiah Gillespie hit consecutive threes about halfway through the quarter to spark Florida State to a 10-0 run and a 63-58 lead. The Wolfpack responded with a huge 9-0 run of their own to take a 67-63 lead with 1:03 left in the game. From there it became a free throw contest. Gillespie was fouled and hit one of two. Elissa Cunane split a pair. Ekhomu drove to the basket with 39 seconds left and drew a foul. She hit both shots to pull FSU within two at 68-66. Cunane drew another foul and again only hit one shot.

FSU took a timeout to advance the ball. Woolfolk took a three that was short. Cunane came down with it and was fouled. She hit both free throws for the final margin of 71-66.

Post Game

The seniors stepped up big in this game. Kiah Gillespie showed no signs of her back injury from yesterday’s game as she poured in 25 points with nine rebounds. Nicki Ekhomu and Nausia Woolfolk had 17 points each and Ekhomu also had five assists and five rebounds.

The key to this game was the rebounding. The Pack killed FSU on the boards (41-30) while hitting 43.5% (10-23) from deep. It’s tough to see how FSU kept it so close with those statistics. The Seminoles countered by playing a very clean game committing only five turnovers.

The Pack did a good job of keeping the Noles from getting out on the break. Other than the seniors and an occasional foray to the basket from Kourtney Weber, FSU really doesn’t have anyone who can consistently break down the defense and get their own shot. This makes it tough when the Noles have to continually face a set defense. The Seminoles really need to get out in transition to get players like Morgan Jones going offensively. That didn’t happen today but FSU still kept it close with some impressive shot making.

Overall in the tournament the Seminoles have to be happy with how they played. FSU looked much more like the team we saw earlier in the season ripping off 13 straight wins to rise to eighth in the AP poll. If the Noles had played like this all season they would not have to worry about hosting NCAA Tournament games. Unfortunately, they weren’t able to keep up this level of play all season so they are very much on the “host bubble” for the NCAA Tournament.

FSU is probably looking at a five seed right now which means that they will have to beat a higher seed on their home court to advance to the Sweet 16. The good news is that if the Seminoles can play at the level they have displayed in the ACC Tournament they will be a tough out no matter where the games are played.

FSU Team Profile

Overall Record: (24-8, 11-7 ACC)

RPI: 31 SOS: 55

Q1: 6-3; Q2: 2-4; Q3: 11-1 (Notre Dame); Q4: 5-0

Best win: At #7 Louisville (67-59)

Worst Loss: #122 Notre Dame (70-67)

This is probably not the profile of a top four seed but we will see what the committee thinks.

Next Game

FSU will learn their tournament fate on Selection Monday, March 16th.