Florida State (9-7, 8-7 ACC) fell to Notre Dame (10-8, 8-6 ACC) by a 72-64 score tonight in South Bend, IN.
Florida State began this game ice cold. The Noles missed their first six shots. Bianca Jackson finally scored to get FSU on the board at 6-2. However, FSU would eventually go down 10-2 before a Sammie Puisis triple cut the lead to 10-5. Morgan Jones quickly followed with a jumper but Notre Dame scored the final seven points of the quarter to take a 17-7 lead into the second stanza.
Madelyn Westbeld started the quarter with a jumper for the Irish as their run grew to 9-0. Morgan Jones broke the run with a jumper to cut the lead to 19-9. From there the two teams mostly exchanged buckets but ND again finished the quarter strong scoring the last five points to take a 32-19 lead into halftime.
The two teams traded baskets to start the second half but the Irish made a move halfway through the third quarter. The Irish hit FSU with a 7-0 run to take a 48-30 lead. Puisis broke the run with a jumper. That sparked the Noles to a 6-2 mini-run that was broken by a pair of free throws from Madelyn Westbeld. Tiana England beat the buzzer with a corner three to give the Seminoles some momentum going into the fourth quarter only down 52-39.
ND responded by scoring the first four points of the fourth. From there the teams mostly traded baskets but FSU wouldn’t quit. With about three minutes left FSU made a late run. Valencia Myers hit a layup that sparked the Noles to an 11-0 run to cut the lead to 67-60 after a triple from Bianca Jackson. However, there were only 41 seconds left on the clock at that point and the Seminoles simply ran out of time falling to the Irish 72-64.
Bianca Jackson led the Noles with 18 points. Valencia Myers had 13 points and five boards while Sammie Puisis had 10 points.
We can talk about how FSU got killed on the boards (44-31), we can talk about how FSU took five free throws to 25 for Notre Dame, we can talk about how FSU only had four fast break points. We could talk about a lot of things but that wouldn’t change the fact that Florida State just got down too far in this game to come back. The Noles simply couldn’t throw it in the ocean in the first quarter. Things got a lot better later in the game but the first quarter counts too.
FSU scored 19 points in the first half and 45 in the second half. Of course the Irish scored 40 points in the second half and that illustrates another problem. ND shot 49.1% for the game even though they were only 3-14 from deep. ND had 38 points in the paint to only 14 for FSU. The points in the paint, the rebounding and the huge free throw disparity were the keys to this game.
FSU did make a gallant comeback and if the game were five quarters maybe it would have turned out differently but the two teams agreed beforehand that the game would only be four quarters.
Due to Covid the NCAA has allowed some freshmen to leave high school and join their college teams a year early. This is only allowed if the player in question has enough credits to graduate early from high school. Notre Dame was one of the teams that were able to take advantage of this provision. Point guard Olivia Miles joined ND and started practicing on January 25th. This was only her fourth game for the Irish but the top 10 recruit had 11 points and eight rebounds from her point guard position. If this game were scheduled before Miles had joined the roster it very well could have been different. ND is a different team with Miles.
Florida State has the talent to win games like this but the Noles have to defend better. Of course the terrible start played a big role in this game but that will happen as there will be times that shots aren’t falling. At those times the defense must be stout and it wasn’t tonight.
The Noles will attempt to regroup when they welcome Wake Forest (11-10, 8-9 ACC) to Tallahassee on Sunday. The game will tip at noon and will be broadcast on RSN. Wake lost at Miami tonight 69-67.