Florida State (9-8, 3-4 ACC) defeated Clemson (7-12, 1-7 ACC) 75-70 today in Tallahassee.
The game started out close as both team traded baskets. However, Florida State went on a small 6-0 run near the end of the quarter that was sparked by a River Baldwin layup. Delicia Washington ended the run with a jumper but the Noles still enjoyed a 14-9 lead going into the second quarter.
FSU started the quarter on a 10-3 run that was capped by an Erin Howard triple. The Tigers responded with a 10-2 run of their own to cut FSU’s lead to 26-22. Sammie Puisis hit a three and that sparked the Seminoles to a 9-2 run to end the half. The Noles enjoyed a 35-24 lead going into the second half.
FSU was close to putting Clemson away with the double digit halftime lead but the Tigers had other ideas. Clemson scored the first eight points of the third quarter to cut the lead to 35-32. From there the two teams mostly traded baskets but with 2:29 left in the quarter Clemson took a 46-45 lead on a Hannah Hank three ball. Hank followed it up with another triple and the Tigers had a 49-45 advantage. The Noles responded by scoring seven of the last nine points in the quarter to take a 52-51 lead into the fourth.
FSU started the fourth quarter with a 9-2 run to regain control of the game at 61-53. However, Clemson refused to fold. Amari Robinson and Delicia Washington scored to keep the Tigers close at 61-57. FSU responded with five straight but Clemson then scored six quick points to cut the lead to 66-63 with 1:45 remaining. O’Mariah Gordon then scored on a tough layup. From there it was the Morgan Jones show as the senior scored FSU’s last seven points of the game (all from the free throw line) to ice the game and give the Seminoles a much needed 75-70 victory.
Morgan Jones led the Noles with 15 points (11-12 FT). Freshman Mikayla Timpson continued her strong play with 12 while River Baldwin and O’Mariah Gordon had 11 and 10 respectively.
With 45 seconds left in the game Morgan Jones missed a free throw. That was the only free throw miss by either team all day. The two teams combined to shoot 36-37 from the line (FSU 25-26, Clemson 11-11).
Mikayla Timpson and O’Mariah Gordon continue to impress as true freshmen. Timpson was 5-5 from the field and 2-2 from the line today. She is cash money when she gets the ball in the post. At 6’2 she is a bit smaller than the bigs in the ACC but she finds a way to get her shot off with her impressive athleticism. Gordon has been handed the keys to the Nole offense as a true freshman. That decision was made in part because of necessity but there is no denying Gordon’s talent and ability. Gordon is still learning what it takes to be a floor general at this level but she is running the team and making plays without turning the ball over. The sky is the limit for both of these freshmen.
It’s always nice to get a win but the Seminoles still have a long road to get near the NCAA Tournament conversation. There simply isn’t much of anything to interest the committee on the current resume. FSU is 56th in the NET which isn’t terrible (although it isn’t good) but the record is 0-4 in Q1 and 1-3 in Q2. The win at Clemson has been bumped to a Q2 win as the Tigers are now 120 in the NET but they are not guaranteed to stay that high so FSU’s best win could easily fall down to Q3.
Florida State has an opportunity to make a move in the next couple of weeks. Four of the next five games are against teams that are currently ranked. All four of them will obviously be Q1 games. In fact, FSU has 11 games left on the regular season schedule and seven of them are currently Q1 games. That doesn’t include the Boston College game which could end up being a Q1 game the way that the Eagles are currently playing. FSU probably needs to go around 8-3 to end the season to have any real hope of a tournament bid. Even then it would probably take at least one win in the ACC Tournament to really feel safe. It is a really tall order but the path is there.
Florida State travels to Kentucky to meet the #3 Louisville Cardinals (16-2, 6-1 ACC) on Thursday. Louisville beat Wake Forest 72-60 today. The game will tip at 8pm and will be broadcast on the ACC Network.