Florida State Advances to the Semifinals
March 6, 2009
So the top of the 2009 ACC Tournament field includes North Carolina, which has won the past four titles; Duke, which claimed the previous five; and Maryland, which only managed to win the NCAA championship in 2006.
With tonight's 83-71 quarterfinal win over No. 7 Boston College, the second-seeded Florida State Seminoles suggested you might want to remember them, too.
"I felt like I was holding a horse in the stable tonight," coach Sue Semrau said. "We were so anxious to play."
FSU earned its second semifinal appearance in its 18 seasons of ACC membership by going 6-for-8 from the 3-point line in the first half and moving on from there. For much of the night, the Noles looked like the outfit that tied the Terrapins for the regular-season title. They withstood the interior challenges of the Eagles' Carolyn Swords and Stefanie Murphy, they were stingy with turnovers and they played to their reputation as one of the country's top long-range threats. FSU entered ninth nationally in 3-point shooting percentage and went 11-for-18 against the Eagles, falling one basket short of the tournament record. And they made the last of the 11 with 11:20 remaining.
Mara Freshour and Tanae Davis-Cain scored 20 points apiece for FSU, and thee others delivered exactly 10.
The Eagles (20-11), who began the day ranked 34th in RPI, were dispatched from this event but should feel confident of their NCAA chances. No ACC team in the Top 40 has been excluded from the field this decade.
For all its strength, the ACC is not an especially outstanding league in 3-point shooting. Of the 12 teams, only Maryland (first) and FSU are among the top 60 in the category nationally. The Noles, therefore, may hang their hats on the long ball the rest of the way.
They got off to a quick start tonight when Freshour knocked down two of them in the game's first two minutes for the Seminoles, who never trailed in the game. Courtney Ward provided another jolt when her buzzer-beating trifecta made it 42-25 at the half.
"She threw it up there, and I knew it was going in," Davis-Cain said. "We went into the locker room pumped."
BC coach Sylvia Crawley had little choice but to stay with Swords even when the sophomore center got into foul trouble. She picked up her fifth with 10 minutes left.
To their credit, the Eagles kept pressing and harassing Florida State, and they cut a 20-point deficit to a dozen in the final two minutes. And the school's evening was an entire loss. Baldwin, the Eagle mascot, drilled a shot from midcourt during a halftime contest.
The Noles' trek continues with Saturday's semifinal against the winner of tonight's Duke-Virginia game. FSU (25-6) is closing in on the school record for wins in a season, held by the 1981-82 team, which went 28-10.