Florida State (16-12, 10-8 ACC) defeated Pittsburgh (11-18, 2-16 ACC) 57-52 today in Pittsburgh.
Florida State came out hot to start the game. River Baldwin hit a layup to propel FSU to a 12-2 lead with a little over three minutes left in the first quarter. Rita Igbokwe’s layup for Pitt broke the run. That layup sparked the Panthers to a 5-1 run to end the quarter. The run cut FSU’s lead to 13-7 going into the second quarter.
The two teams went back and forth in the second quarter as the Seminoles nursed a small lead. O’Mariah Gordon hit a nice layup as time was winding down in the first half to give the Noles a 28-21 lead going into halftime.
Pitt started the second half strong. Morgan Jones started the half with a driving layup but the Panthers responded with an 8-0 run capped by a Liatu King jumper to pull within one at 30-29. FSU responded with a 7-2 mini-run capped by an old fashioned three point play from Baldwin to take a 37-31 lead with just over two minutes left in the quarter. From there the two teams mostly traded baskets until Bianca Jackson hit a jumper to beat the buzzer to give the Noles a 44-35 lead going into the fourth quarter.
Pitt refused to fold. The Panthers started the quarter on a 6-0 run to pull within three at 44-41. The Noles called timeout to stop the momentum. Jackson nailed a three for FSU after the timeout. From there the teams traded baskets until Pitt hit FSU with a quick five points to cut the lead to 50-48 with a little more than a minute remaining. Pitt then fouled Sara Bejedi and Bejedi hit both foul shots. After that it was a free throw contest. Down the stretch FSU had 10 free throws in the last 76 seconds. The Noles made seven of them and that was enough to ensure the much needed 57-52 victory.
Florida State played 11 players in the game and all of them scored. O’Mariah Gordon led the team with 10 points.
This game was not a masterpiece for FSU. The Noles were beaten up on the boards (45-31) but FSU took care of the ball really well only surrendering seven turnovers.
The reality is that FSU avoided the upset (which would have forced them to win the ACC Tournament to get an NCAA bid) and that keeps their flickering NCAA Tournament hopes alive.
The regular season is over. Here is Florida State’s Tournament profile:
Record: 16-12 (10-8 ACC)
NET Ranking: 49
Q1: 3-8, Q2: 4-3
Worst Loss: Houston (#76)
Best Win: Notre Dame (#18)
That resume screams bubble team. FSU really needs to win its first ACC Tournament game to even be realistically in the conversation for an NCAA bid. If the Noles could beat NC State or Louisville in the next game that would likely sew up a bid. If not the Noles would be on the bubble and it could easily come down to how much emphasis the committee puts on early season losses where FSU was not at full strength. If the committee gave the Seminoles a break because they were playing short-handed the Noles could slip in but if not it could be tough if they only get one ACC Tournament win.
Florida State will play in the ACC Tournament next. If Miami beats Clemson today FSU is a nine seed. If the Canes lose FSU is a seven seed. This is a big deal because if the Noles are a nine seed they will play NC State in the second tournament game which would be a very tough game. If they are a seven seed FSU would play Louisville in the second game which is also a tough game but the Seminoles would have a puncher’s chance against the Cards.
In any case stay tuned to Tomahawk Nation as we chronicle the post season tournaments.