No. 23 Florida State (23-7, 12-5 ACC) defeated Wake Forest 14-14, 5-12 ACC) by a 61-60 score tonight in Winston-Salem, NC.
The game started out tight. Neither team could maintain a significant advantage in the first quarter. However, Florida State was able to get into the bonus relatively early in the quarter. That advantage helped the Seminoles to a 15-14 lead after the first quarter.
In the second quarter FSU forged a small five point lead but the Deacons erased it with an 8-0 run capped by a pair of triples from Elise Williams. Valencia Myers ended the run with a pair of free throws but Noles were still down 22-21. The Seminoles were struggling to shoot but stayed in the game by getting to the foul line. FSU shot 19 free throws in the first half to only four for the Deacons. Florida State took a 31-30 lead into halftime.
FSU made a move at the start of the second half scoring the first eight points of the third quarter to take a 39-30 lead. Jewel Spear broke the run with a triple. The teams mostly traded baskets after that as Florida State took a 47-42 lead into the fourth quarter.
The shooting woes continued for Florida State in the fourth quarter. However, FSU continued to play tough defense and the Seminoles kept the Deacs off of the offensive boards. Therefore the Seminoles were able to maintain a small lead. However, Williams nailed a three ball for Wake with four minutes to go to pull the Deacons within two at 54-52. Wake pulled to within one with a pair of free throws from Spear. FSU had the ball with only about a second difference between the shot clock and the game clock. Ta’Niya Latson had the ball as the clock wound down. Latson drove to the basket with a little over two seconds left but she missed the shot. Wake grabbed the rebound and called timeout to advance the ball. The Deacons got the ball in but couldn’t get off a shot as the Seminoles escaped with a 61-60 nail-biter victory.
Valencia Myers stepped up big time for Florida State tonight with 18 points, six boards and two blocks. Ta’Niya Latson also had 15 points.
FSU won on the road even though they were outrebounded (42-38) and were 1-13 (a robust 7.7%) from deep for the game. Florida State obviously won this game by getting to the free throw line. The Noles were 22-31 while Wake was only 13-17 from the line. Florida State was the more aggressive team so the extra foul shots were earned. Nevertheless, this officiating crew called a tight game and that style of officiating will always benefit this FSU team.
Even though Florida State eviscerated Wake Forest in Tallahassee, the Deacons are much better at home. They have home wins over Louisville and Miami. Therefore, this was a dangerous game for the Noles. It was also a very important game as FSU needed to win to have any hope at a top four seed and the precious double-bye in the ACC Tournament that comes with it.
Louisville took care of business at home against Miami tonight (71-57). Therefore in order for the Seminoles to get the double-bye, FSU must beat Clemson and Louisville must lose to Notre Dame. Both games will be played on Sunday.
Florida State will travel to Clemson on Sunday. The game will tip at 2pm and will be broadcast on the ACC Network.