Noles Reach Third Straight Sweet 16
By Seminoles.com contributor Ariya Massoudi
Good things come in threes.
No. 3 seed Florida State used swarming defensive pressure and a slew of runs to storm past No. 6 seed Missouri 77-55, advancing to the program’s third straight Sweet Sixteen.
In front of 4,084 raucous fans, the Seminoles used a massive run midway through the second quarter to take the lead for good.
The Tigers, who led 14-12 after the first period, held on to a 17-12 lead early in the second quarter. That’s when the Noles ripped off a 17-2 run to take full control of the contest, holding the Tigers without a field goal for over seven minutes.
Back-to-back 3-pointers from Leticia Romero and Imani Wright gave the Seminoles a 26-19 lead at 4:21 in the second quarter and Romero capped the run with a pair of free throws to give the Noles a 29-19 lead.
“We’ve been talking about our mentality (in the NCAA Tournament) and what that has to look like,” FSU coach Sue Semrau said following the game. “When we had one run it was about going and having another one, this team feeds off of that.”
“Preparing for FSU, I didn’t see a lot of weaknesses,” Missouri coach Robin Pingeton added. “They’re a team that can go on a lot of runs and put a lot of points on the board in a hurry. They sped the game up and that’s what we didn’t want to do.”
Leading 32-27 at halftime the Seminoles exploded out of the locker room on a quick 8-0 run, extending the lead to 13, a deficit the Tigers never recovered from.
A pair of free throws from Ivey Slaughter capped another 11-2 run in the middle of the third quarter to extend the lead to 52-33 and the rout was on. The Seminoles’ defensive effort in the second and third quarters was stifling as they held Missouri to 23 total points between the two periods. Mizzou ended the night shooting just 37.5% from the floor and just 25.0% from the three-point line.
“That’s what we do, we pride ourselves on the defensive end, we need to be dogs on defense,” Brittany Brown said. “I feel like coming into the NCAA Tournament we prided ourselves (again) on defense.”
Shakayla Thomas paced the Seminoles with 20 points and 11 rebounds, the 16th 20-point game and 10th double-double of her career. Brittany Brown finished the night with 16 points and eight assists, moving her into fifth all-time (162) in assists at FSU. Romero and Imani Wright each added with 14 points, respectively.
Florida State won the battle of the boards 35-29 and turned the Tigers over 23 times, leading to 20 points. The Seminoles also shot the three-ball well (7-14), led by Wright’s three triples.
Semrau has built a consistent winner at FSU, having now reached the Sweet 16 five times in her career at the school. The Seminoles will next take on No. 2 seed Oregon State on Saturday in Stockton, CA.
“This is a hard thing to do and it really separates you if you can be one of 16 teams in the country that get a chance to play on this second weekend,” Semrau said.