Florida State (7-7, 1-3 ACC) fell to #15 Georgia Tech (13-3, 4-1 ACC) by a 68-64 score tonight in Atlanta, GA.
Florida State started out a bit slow and Georgia Tech took advantage. The Jackets took a 20-8 lead late in the first quarter after a pair of Lotta-Maj Lahtinen free throws. FSU came back with five quick points but Lahtinen ended the quarter with a layup to give GT a 22-13 lead going into the break.
The teams traded baskets to begin the second quarter. However, midway through the quarter the Noles went on a 7-0 run that was capped by a Morgan Jones jumper. The GT lead had been cut to 29-25. The Jackets took a 36-29 lead into halftime.
Nerea Hermosa started the third quarter for the Jackets with a jumper but then the Seminoles made a move. FSU scored six straight to close the gap to 38-35. Lahtinen hit a jumper to break the run. However, the Noles ended the quarter on a 16-6 run aided by hot shooting from Sammie Puisis. FSU took a 51-46 lead into the fourth quarter.
The teams traded baskets early in the quarter before Florida State went on a 6-0 run capped by a layup from Makayla Timpson. The Noles had a 62-55 lead with 3:52 left. GT charged back with an 8-0 run to take a 63-62 lead. Morgan Jones hit a pair of free throws but Eylia Love answered with a layup for the Jackets to give them the lead 65-64 with 47 seconds left.
FSU ran their offense against GT’s set defense. O’Mariah Gordon tried to get the ball to Valencia Myers in the post but it was knocked away. Gordon hustled over to save it and drove the ball to the basket with 10 seconds left on the shot clock. The ball was knocked away from her but Myers scooped it up and drove to the basket. The Jackets doubled Myers so she passed to River Baldwin with four seconds on the shot clock and 21.7 seconds in the game. Baldwin made a heads up play to dive to the basket once her defender went over to double Myers but she missed the point blank layup that would have given FSU the lead with 20 seconds left in the game. Baldwin wanted a foul but the refs disagreed.
FSU fouled Lahtinen to stop the clock. She made one of two. Her second shot went long off the back rim and Nerea Hermosa grabbed the huge rebound for the Jackets. Hermosa was immediately fouled and she hit both foul shots to ice the game for the Jackets at 68-64.
Morgan Jones and Mikayla Timpson led the Noles with 12 points each. Erin Howard chipped in with eleven. Jones also led the team with nine boards.
FSU is the first team this year to score more than 60 points against Georgia Tech.
The good news from this game is that Timpson looks like a future first team all-ACC player at least. Her athleticism and quickness are impressive. Her teammates know that she is a difference maker. They find a way to get her the ball in the post and she usually delivers.
Erin Howard has also been a definite plus since joining the team after her knee injury.
However, Florida State has now lost five straight games to Tech and the main reason remains the same. The Noles have no answer for Lorela Cubaj inside. The 6’4 Cubaj had 24 points (career high) and nine boards tonight. She hit her first seven shots of the game. FSU really struggles against good post players and that Achilles heel showed up again tonight.
Even with that weakness, Florida State looked like a tournament team tonight. However, at 7-7 the Seminoles now face a Mount Everest sized climb to reach the tournament. In a normal year losing this type of game wouldn’t be that big of a deal since top 15 teams are supposed to win at home. However, this isn’t a normal year because FSU has dug a big hole with all of the early season losses. To be fair, they were mostly due to people missing because of injuries and Covid but losses are losses to the Committee.
FSU needs wins now and they need a lot of them. The good news is that with the ACC being arguably the deepest conference in the nation this year the Noles are going to have many opportunities for Q1 and Q2 wins (they don’t have any right now). The bad news is that all of these teams are good so it is going to be tough to go on the epic winning streak that the Seminoles are probably going to need to make a serious Tourney run.
Florida State will travel to South Carolina to take on the Clemson Tigers (6-10, 0-5 ACC) on Tuesday. The game will tip at 6pm and will be broadcast on the ACC Network Extra.