Florida State (9-9, 3-5 ACC) fell to Louisville (17-2, 7-1 ACC) tonight 75-62 in Louisville, KY.
The first quarter was tight throughout. Louisville used balanced scoring to take a 13-10 lead into the second quarter. Florida State was powered by six points from Morgan Jones and four points from River Baldwin.
Jones continued her impactful play in the second quarter scoring FSU’s first six points. However, the Cardinals hit Florida State with a 10-0 run midway through the quarter. Sammie Puisis broke the run with a layup but the Noles were still trailing 29-21. FSU couldn’t cut into the lead further and UL went into halftime with a 36-25 lead.
Florida State came out strong in the second half. FSU started the half on a 13-4 run that was capped by a Valencia Myers layup. The Noles had cut the Cardinal lead to 40-38. The Cards responded with a 7-2 mini run to take a 47-40 lead. From there the two teams traded buckets until UL scored the last five points of the quarter to take a 57-48 lead into the fourth quarter.
In the fourth quarter Jones continued to be aggressive for FSU scoring five straight points early in the quarter. However, the Cards responded with a 10-2 run that essentially won the game as they held a 71-55 lead with less than three minutes left. From there they cruised to the 75-62 victory.
Morgan Jones was fantastic tonight with 28 points and six boards. Sammie Puisis was the only other Nole in double figures with 10 points. River Baldwin had eight points, eight rebounds and three blocks.
The good news first. Morgan Jones looks like a WNBA player. She was already very athletic but she has added a deadly midrange game to her arsenal this year. It is evident that she has spent quite a bit of time in the gym working on her game. When she is on she is almost impossible to guard.
FSU actually played fairly well in this game (except for a couple of areas we will address in a minute) but it is obviously tough to take a top five team down on the road. The Noles outshot (46.3%-41.3%) and barely outrebounded the Cards (35-34). They certainly weren’t afraid and they came out well in the early third quarter surge after going down double digits in the second quarter.
However, FSU turned the ball over 17 times and had a grand total of four fast break points. The Seminoles were never going to win this game (no matter how well they shot the ball) if they had to go up against a set Louisville defense all night. Florida State needed to turn the Cards over and make it a track meet to have a chance and that didn’t happen. Also, Emily Engstler was great for Louisville. She had 19 points, eleven boards and four blocks. She impacted the game all night and was a big reason why FSU couldn’t complete the second half comeback.
Overall, FSU looks like a team that could really use a training camp. It feels strange to say this because Florida State brought nearly everyone back from last year but this team is not used to playing together. Injuries and Covid have stolen most of the practice time this year for these players and they haven’t been able to recover. The team often looks hesitant and unsure. That is largely because they aren’t familiar enough with their teammates. That is something that may get better this year but it probably won’t get better quickly enough for the Noles to secure a tournament bid.
Speaking of the tournament, this would have obviously be a great start on the road to a bid. Now FSU is really up against it. I mentioned before that FSU probably needed to go around 8-3 the rest of the way to have a reasonable chance. Now it’s 8-2. It will be tough to say the least.
Florida State will welcome Virginia (3-14, 0-7 ACC) to Tallahassee on Sunday. The game will tip at noon and will be broadcast on the Bally Sports Network. The Cavaliers lost 71-42 to Virginia Tech tonight.