No. 24 Florida State (22-7, 11-5 ACC) defeated Georgia Tech (13-14, 4-12 ACC) by an 80-66 score today in Tallahassee, FL.
The first quarter was tight throughout. However, Georgia Tech won the quarter 24-21 primarily because Florida State was unable to keep the Jackets from getting to the basket. Tech scored six baskets on layups in the first quarter.
The Seminoles clamped down defensively (at least on the layups) after the first quarter. This allowed the Noles to take control of the game. FSU hit GT with a 13-3 run that was capped by a triple from O’Mariah Gordon. Florida State had a 36-31 lead as a result of the run. The Noles would later go on a 9-2 run to take a 45-35 lead. However, Kara Dunn made a layup to cut the lead to 45-37 going into halftime.
The two teams mostly traded baskets early in the third quarter. FSU then hit Tech with an 8-1 run that was capped by a Taylor O’Brien jumper to take a 63-51 lead. However, GT scored the last six points of the quarter to cut the lead to 63-57 going into the fourth quarter.
In the fourth, FSU hit the Jackets with an 8-0 run that was capped by a Ta’Niya Latson layup. The Noles led 73-61 with about four minutes left. Former Nole Bianca Jackson broke the run with a three-ball but Tech was running out of time. Florida State shut the door by scoring the last seven points of the game to earn a much needed 80-66 victory.
Ta’Niya Latson led Florida State with 31 points and six boards. Sara Bejedi had 14 points and O’Mariah Gordon chipped in with 10.
This was a game reminiscent of early in the season for Ta’Niya Latson. She shot well today but most importantly she had 10 free throws. Basketball doesn’t have to be a complicated game. If Latson is getting to the free throw line this team is much harder to beat. In recent games she hasn’t been getting the calls (for whatever reason) but in this game she got to the line and that made a big difference.
Speaking of free throw shooting, FSU was only 16-27 from the line. That needs to improve. Poor free throw shooting has already cost the Noles an important game (at Miami) and if the Noles can’t make free throws it will make future games much harder to win.
Overall, this game was decided when FSU decided to keep Georgia Tech from getting to the basket. When FSU cut off those driving lanes the Jackets found it much harder to score. That defense combined with Latson’s outburst was too much for Tech to overcome.
Florida State is still alive to get a top 4 ACC seed. However, the Noles need to keep winning and they need help. Louisville or Virginia Tech needs to lose. The Cards were down today at Boston College but they righted the ship to win 62-52. The Hokies are handling their business against NC State. The big game to watch is when Notre Dame visits Louisville on February 26th (the last game of the season). If the Irish take that game FSU will ascend to the fourth seed if they can take care of business against Wake Forest and Clemson.
Of course, the real goal is to secure a top four NCAA Tournament seed and be able to host tournament games. My guess at this point is that if the Seminoles can reach the semifinals of the ACC Tournament they will most likely get that top four seed. The Noles have put themselves in range for a top four seed. We will see if they can take advantage of the opportunity.
Florida State will travel to Winston-Salem, NC to face Wake Forest on Thursday at 6pm. The game will be broadcast on the ACC Network Extra.