(7) Florida State (23-10) fell to (10) Georgia (22-11) by a 66-54 score today in Iowa City, Iowa in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.
Florida State came out sharp offensively. The Seminoles were able to generate good looks almost every possession. It really seemed like the two week layoff had helped the team. Erin Howard hit a couple of threes and converted an and-one situation after a steal and a fast break. The Noles had a 15-9 lead at the first TV timeout. Unfortunately, Makayla Timpson took an elbow to the face and had to leave the game. Nevertheless, FSU took an 18-13 lead into the second quarter.
Georgia took the lead for the first time in the second quarter after an Alisha Lewis layup. However Brianna Turnage nailed a triple to give the lead back to the Noles at 24-23. Georgia responded by scoring four of the last five points in the quarter to take a 35-30 lead into halftime.
Taylor O’Brien stepped up for the Seminoles scoring eight points in the third quarter. However, UGA still took a 45-40 lead into the fourth quarter.
The fourth quarter started out awful for FSU. The Noles kept turning the ball over and the Dawgs scored the first 12 points of the quarter to stretch the lead to 57-40. Timpson finally broke the run with a pair of free throws. That sparked the Seminoles to an 11-2 run to cut the lead to 61-51. Diamond Battles broke the run with a pair of free throws. Georgia scored five straight points to extend the lead to 66-51. Howard hit a three for the final margin of 66-54.
Erin Howard led Florida State with 19 points and nine rebounds. Taylor O’Brien chipped in with 15 points.
Florida State was without Ta’Niya Latson and O’Mariah Gordon for the game due to injuries. Makayla Timpson also missed the pivotal second quarter after taking an elbow to the face but she did return in the second half.
This game was always going to be tough for FSU due to the injuries. The Seminoles really needed someone to step up to pick up the slack. Early on that person was Howard as she came out hot scoring 11 early points. O’Brien tried to keep FSU in it in the third quarter scoring eight points but it ultimately wasn’t enough.
FSU also had a tough shooting game (8-29 3PT). Without Latson and Gordon the Noles really needed to shoot well in this game to compensate and it just didn’t happen.
FSU entered the fourth quarter only down five points so the game was very winnable at that point. However, the beginning of the fourth quarter was a nightmare for Florida State as the Noles turned the ball over on their first five possessions without even attempting a shot. After that appalling start the Seminoles could never recover and Georgia cruised to the victory.
I will have more to say about the season as a whole and the overall state of the program in a future article. However, this season overall was a success. Injuries and lack of depth caught up to the team at the end of the season but there is a lot to build on in Tallahassee.