No. 15 Florida State (14-5, 5-2 ACC) was defeated by Syracuse (15-2, 5-1 ACC) by a 79-73 score tonight in Syracuse, NY.
The two teams traded baskets early. FSU had chances to build a lead but the offense was inhibited by turnovers. Florida State had five turnovers in the first eight minutes of the game. However, Sara Bejedi hit a four point play to give the Noles an early 17-11 lead. Dyaisha Fair had an answer for the Cuse hitting three straight triples to give the Orange a 20-19 lead going into the second quarter.
Florida State scored the first 12 points of the second quarter to take a 31-20 lead. The run was capped by a layup from Makayla Timpson. Syracuse head coach Felisha Legette-Jack was forced to call a timeout to try to stop the Seminole momentum. From there the two teams went back and forth but Fair ended the quarter with a three ball to cut FSU’s lead to 10 at 46-36 going into halftime. Fair had 17 points at the half (5-8 3FG). This game would have been a complete blowout without her hot shooting. FSU had a 24-10 edge in rebounding at halftime.
The Noles scored the first eight points of the third quarter but the run was stopped by another triple from Fair. Nonetheless FSU still enjoyed a 54-39 lead. Fair’s shot ignited the Orange into an 8-0 run to cut the lead to 54-44. Bejedi broke the run with a tough driving layup. Midway through the quarter the Orange hit FSU with a 6-0 run to cut the lead to eight. The quarter ended with the Noles up 62-54.
Syracuse opened the fourth quarter on fire scoring the first nine points of the quarter to take a 63-62 lead after another three ball from Fair. Coach Brooke Wyckoff took a timeout but the Orange scored again to increase the lead to 65-62. The SU run was fueled by great offensive rebounding and a spate of turnovers from the Seminoles. O’Mariah Gordon broke the run with a pair of free throws. Midway through the quarter Ta’Niya Latson drove to the rack for a hoop and harm. She completed the three point play to give FSU a 69-67 lead. Fair responded with a pair of triples. From there the Noles made a concerted effort to get the ball to Timpson down low and that strategy basically worked but the Seminoles couldn’t get stops at the other end and the Orange were able to get a huge 79-73 victory.
Ta’Niya Latson led Florida State with 22 points, six rebounds and nine assists. Makayla Timpson had a 16 point, 12 rebound double-double. O’Mariah Gordon and Sara Bejedi chipped in with 16 points and 11 points respectively.
Brianna Turnage really did a great job on the defensive glass in the first half but the Orange really dominated the boards in the second half.
This game came down to two things: offensive rebounding and Dyaisha Fair. As I mentioned in the article, FSU had a 24-10 rebounding edge at halftime. After the game the two teams were tied in rebounding at 40. The Orange really amped things up in the second half on the boards and that was a big key to the game. Fair was simply spectacular. The senior guard had 31 points on 9-14 shooting from deep. She was the only SU player in double figures.
Coach Brooke Wyckoff was disappointed in how her team defended in the second half, “We stopped defending. We let their entire team score...It was post ups, it was offensive rebounds, it was losing people on screens and letting them get open shots.”
Florida State really needs to find a way to get more production from the bench. Tonight FSU had four bench points. Last game against Virginia Tech it was three, against UNC it was 10 and against Clemson there were nine bench points. Against NC State the Noles had eight bench points in an overtime game. There is considerable talent on the Seminole bench but it hasn’t been producing of late.
It’s always disappointing to lose an 18 point second half lead but this game isn’t a back breaker for the season. With only two conference losses FSU is still in a good position to get a top four seed in both the ACC and NCAA Tournaments.
Florida State will host Virginia in Tallahassee on Sunday. The game will tip at 2pm and will be broadcast on the ACC Network Extra.