Florida State (11-10, 5-6 ACC) defeated #20 Notre Dame (18-5, 9-3 ACC) 70-65 today in Tallahassee.
The game started out close. Notre Dame was running precision offense that allowed the Irish to get layups and open jumpers. Florida State countered with hot shooting and tough rebounding. However, ND closed the quarter on a 7-2 run to take a 19-13 lead into the second stanza.
Florida State hit the Irish with an 11-0 run midway through the second quarter that was capped by a triple from Sara Bejedi. The Seminoles had a 30-25 lead. However, ND came back and scored the last four points of the half to close the FSU lead to 30-29 at halftime.
The Seminoles again asserted themselves in the third quarter. A Valencia Myers jumper sparked the Noles to a 16-2 run. Sonia Citron came down and hit a triple at the buzzer for Notre Dame to cut the FSU lead to 52-38.
Florida State kept up the pressure in the fourth quarter. A jumper from Myers and a layup from Morgan Jones gave the Seminoles a (seemingly) commanding 56-38 lead with eight minutes left. However, the Irish refused to fold. Olivia Miles came down and hit a three ball to spark ND to a 19-4 run over the next five minutes. The Florida State lead had evaporated to just three at 60-57. Bejedi responded with a jumper to give FSU a five point lead. The Irish then scored four of the next five points to cut the lead to two at 63-61. Morgan Jones then hit a huge pressure jumper from the corner and was fouled by Citron. Jones completed the old fashioned three point play to give FSU a 66-61 lead with about a minute left. However, ND still kept fighting. Maddy Westbeld nailed a three to keep the pressure on FSU. Both teams then missed shots. Citron missed a layup and the rebound was fumbled out of bounds. The referees initially awarded the ball to the Irish but a video replay review determined that it was in fact Florida State’s ball. O’Mariah Gordon received the in-bounds pass and was fouled immediately. The freshman stepped up with ice water in her veins and drained a pair of pressure free throws to put FSU up by four with 12.5 seconds remaining. After that it was a free throw contest and the Noles made just enough of them to emerge with a badly needed 70-65 victory.
Valencia Myers led FSU with 14 points and eight boards. Sara Bejedi had 12 points off the bench. O’Mariah Gordon chipped in with 11 points while Morgan Jones had 10.
This was a huge win for FSU for many reasons:
- It was FSU’s first Q1 win of the year (The Noles are now 1-6 in Q1 games).
- It was FSU’s first win this year over a ranked team.
- It was the first win in program history over Notre Dame (FSU is now 1-11 vs. ND).
However, the biggest reason that this game was huge is that it gives the Seminoles life. This was a must win for FSU (the first of many) if the Noles have any hope for an at-large Tournament bid. Make no mistake, Florida State still has quite a bit of work to do to earn a bid but they took the first (necessary) step today toward that goal.
This game was also big for the Seminoles because other players besides Morgan Jones stepped up. FSU featured a balanced attack with four players in double figures. This will be key going forward. Florida State can’t just rely on Jones to generate all of the offense. Other players must also contribute and that happened today.
FSU only won the rebounding battle 32-30 but the Noles did a great job keeping the Irish off the offensive glass.
Overall, this was the best win for Florida State this season by light years. We saw a glimpse today why the Noles were ranked in the top 20 in the preseason. FSU took a big step forward today but the Noles still need more big Q1 wins to really catch the committee’s attention.
Florida State will travel to Durham, NC on Thursday to meet Duke (14-7, 5-6 ACC, 40 NET) for another chance to bolster the resume with a Q1 win. The Blue Devils face Wake Forest tonight. The game will tip at 6pm on Thursday and will be broadcast on the ACC Network Extra.