March 7, 2014
GREENSBORO, N.C. (seminoles.com) - The Florida State women's basketball team was on the wrong end of an efficient offensive display by No. 1 seed Notre Dame as it fell in Friday's ACC Tournament quarterfinals, 83-57, at the Greensboro Coliseum.
Guided by four double-figure scorers, Notre Dame shot 32-of-53 (60.4 percent) against the Seminoles (20-11), a season high by an opponent. Leading the undefeated Fighting Irish (30-0) was guard Jewell Loyd, who posted 17 points, and Notre Dame also nailed 7-of-14 shots from long range.
Florida State senior forward Natasha Howard ended her last ACC Tournament in grand style, notching 29 points on 14-of-22 shooting from the floor along with five rebounds. The Toledo, Ohio, native recorded her fourth game of the season with 14 field goals, all against ACC teams. Howard now owns the top four single-game performances in ACC play in terms of field goals made.
"They're undefeated for a reason. And they know what they want to do and they do it," FSU head coach Sue Semrau said of Notre Dame. "And they expose you when you're not as confident in who you are. We've had some ups and downs this year, and part of that is habits.
"The one on my left here (Natasha Howard) has habits, and you can see what four years in our program does to a kid that goes to work every single day. Everybody keys in on her and she still has 29. I know she's three rebounds away from being our all-time rebounder. That's an amazing feat. I'm extremely proud of her and excited to play in the NCAA Tournament."
The hard-working senior was once again FSU's primary option, going to her several times in the post as she fought off double teams and still managed to finish around the rim with consistency. Howard is now just three rebounds away from becoming FSU's all-time leading rebounder, owning 1,027 boards for her career. She will have an opportunity to pass FSU legend Cherry Rivers (1976-1980), who has 1,029.
The `Noles shot well for the most part, going 24-of-52 (46.2 percent). However, 20 turnovers committed by FSU turned into 23 points for the opportunistic Fighting Irish, who also had 10 second-chance points.
FSU tried to gain some momentum in the second half, getting off to a good start as freshman Ivey Slaughter entered the game and scored three baskets with some nice inside moves. Morgan Jones then hit a free throw following a Notre Dame technical to cut Notre Dame's lead to 53-38 with 12:58 remaining, and both teams went back and forth as another jumper from Jones with 7:53 left made it 62-47 Irish.
The Seminoles were unable to sustain their second-half fury as Notre Dame found open spots in the zone and continued its solid shooting, going 15-of-27 in the final 20 minutes.
A big 21-0 run by the Fighting Irish created a 45-23 lead over Florida State at halftime. A free throw by Kai James gave FSU a 12-11 lead, but Notre Dame turned it into a 32-12 deficit as FSU was held without a field goal for 7:34. Howard paced Florida State with 12 points on 6-of-12 shooting.
The Irish shot a blistering 65.4 percent in the first half (17-of-26), while FSU was 10-of-26 from the field. Besides the play of Howard, the `Noles weren't able to find much else inside as Notre Dame outscored FSU, 22-8, in the paint. Jewel Loyd led all scorers with 15 points heading into halftime. For the game, FSU was outscored in the paint, 44-32. It was only the eighth time this season an opponent has had more points inside than FSU.
Florida State displayed some hard-nose defense early, forcing the Fighting Irish to miss on six of their first eight shots as FSU took a 6-5 lead into the first media timeout. Howard had two buckets inside to give the `Noles a big boost.
Notre Dame got some scoring from the outside as Loyd drained a 3-pointer from the right wing to give the Irish a 9-6 lead. However, Morgan Jones responded with a 3-ball of her own to knot the game at 9-9. Another basket by Howard inside on a post-up move tied the game at 11-11 through the second media timeout.
The Irish went on a 13-0 run over 2:44 to lead 24-12 with 7:54 remaining in the first half. Consecutive 3-pointers by Michaela Mabrey started the run and the old-fashioned three-point play by Natalie Achonwa underneath helped Notre Dame to a 12-point advantage.
Florida State will await its NCAA Tournament fate with the NCAA Selection Show airing on Monday, March 17, at 7 p.m. on ESPN.
For more information on Florida State women's basketball, follow the Seminoles on Twitter at @FSU_WBasketball and like their official Facebook page (Facebook.com/FSUWomensBasketball).