March 21, 2009
DULUTH, Ga. (AP)--Florida State was supposed to be too big for North Carolina A&T.
Instead, it was the Seminoles' depth that finally made the difference.
Alysha Harvin scored 18 points to lead five players in double figures and Florida State pulled away to beat North Carolina A&T 83-71 Saturday in the first round of the NCAA tournament.
Tanae Davis-Cain added 16 points for the third-seeded Seminoles (26-7), who will face Arizona State on Monday night. Arizona State beat Georgia 58-47.
North Carolina A&T (26-7) trailed only 51-48 about 7 minutes into the second half and finished with a 33-30 edge in rebounds. The Aggies, who appeared to tire in the second half, lacked the depth to keep up with Florida State.
Ta'Wuana Cook, a 5-foot-8 guard, had 19 points to lead the Aggies. Lamona Smalley had 14 and Jaleesa Sams and Amber Bland each added 13.
North Carolina A&T's No. 14 seed is the highest ever for a Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference school. The Aggies were a No. 16 seed in 1994, their only previous NCAA appearance, when they were overwhelmed in a 111-37 loss to Tennessee.
The Aggies showed early this would not be another lopsided loss.
Florida State led 40-31 at halftime and couldn't stretch the lead in the opening minutes of the second half. Instead, Brittanie Taylor-James' 3-pointer, followed by Smalley's basket with 13:28 remaining, cut the lead to 51-48.
Florida State answered with seven straight points, including a 3 by Harvin. The Seminoles pushed the advantage to double digits for good in the final 7 minutes.
Florida State needs to beat Arizona State Monday night to advance to the round of 16 for only the second time in school history. The Seminoles made it that far in 2007, then lost to LSU.
The No. 3 seed is the highest in Florida State's history.
Mara Freshour, who tied a school record by playing in the 130th game of her career, had 14 points for Florida State. Two 6-foot-4 players, Cierra Bravard and Jacinta Monroe, each had 11 points for the Seminoles.
Florida State Head Coach Sue Semrau
"I just want to compliment North Carolina A&T. That kind of pressure that they applied for 40 minutes takes a ton of heart and a ton of buy-in. Coach Bibbs did a fantastic job with her team."
"My team, after a two-week layoff, started to pick it up in the second half defensively. We were a little sluggish throughout the course of the first half and into the start of the second."
"Today Tanae Davis-Cain had the assignment of guarding Brittanie Taylor-James, who averages 19 points a game, and held her to six. A lot of people talk about what Tanae does on the offensive end of the floor, but what she does on the defensive end is just as important, if not more."
"Mara [Freshour] just continues to be our steadying force. Any time they made a run, you could look at Mara and see the experience that she brings to the floor. She's just a player that hits big shots and makes big passes and really settles us as a team."
"[Alysha Harvin] has all the talent in the world and you saw a lot of it today. I'm so happy for her. She's fought really hard. We put her in a small forward position, and she has a guard's body, but this afternoon she really showed who she is and what she can do on the court."
"North Carolina A&T didn't have any quit in them, and that's a credit to the core of who they are."
On playing Arizona State on Monday: "I think Arizona State's defense is very strong. Their pressure is very unique on the post game. It will be different than we've seen. At the same time, the pressure defenses that we see in the ACC will help us prepare."
Florida State Player Alysha Harvin
On being leading scorer: "I didn't know it would be 18 points (when I scored the first basket of the game). I wanted to be a spark coming out. I'm thankful that my teammates had my back, that I got in position and that they found me open."
On inside game: "I definitely knew I had to go out there and play my game. I'm used to banging it out. They weren't extremely big so I felt more comfortable playing behind them. I just tried to do a good job defensively to keep them out of the paint."
Florida State Player Mara Freshour
On difference in FSU's play between first and second half: "I think it was a result of not playing for two weeks. You can do as much as possible in practice to try and simulate a game, but you still can't quite get it. Unfortunately it took us a half to figure it out and get the rust out. It took a little bit, but after a half we figured it out and we were able to go from there."
On Alysha Harvin's play: "We always rely on her. She's been our fireball as far as being out there like she is. She is undersized, but we let her know (that we rely on her) in pretty much every game we play. We rely on her to bring this every night, and now it resulted in 18 points. It might result in 10 on Monday; we don't care. We know she's going to bring it every night and we rely on her every single game."
Florida State Player Tanae Davis-Cain
On defending N.C. A&T player Brittany Taylor-James: "She's a great player. She's a jump shooter and I stayed out on her and tried to keep her from getting off many three's."
On any surprises about play of N.C. A&T: "Nothing surprised me. We knew they were a great team coming in. They won their conference, the MEAC, so nothing really surprised me."
North Carolina A&T Head Coach Patricia Cage-Bibbs
Opening Statement: "The game was played very hard. I am so proud of these young ladies. Of course, we played a really good team. There were a lot of big shots hit for Florida State. But we never gave up and that's what I like about this team. All of the ladies made a contribution and played their hearts out and they really wanted this game. We knew coming in that we had to have a lot of things go right. We got within five and made a little rally. I'm just very proud of these young ladies."
On rebounding: "We have always put an emphasis on rebounding. We don't let anyone out rebound us on the offensive end. We did a good job."
North Carolina A&T Player Brittanie Taylor-James
"We gave it a hard fight but it just didn't fall our way. I think it was a good fight but we just didn't get the W at the end, sometimes it happens."
"I think we have great fans. I think if we were to play in China then they would come that far. It just shows that we are truly one big family."
North Carolina A&T Player Amber Bland
"We played together but we didn't play together like we usually do. We just didn't knock down our shots like normal."
"They did play good defense but you know with any shooting you'll have an off day and today was just our off day."
North Carolina A&T Player Lamona Smalley
"I think we played as a team but just didn't finish it off"
MONROE BREAKS ANOTHER RECORD
She already owns the record for most blocks in a career but Saturday against North Carolina A&T, Jacinta Monroe broke the school record for blocks in a season. With her three swats in the game, she now has 81 this season, which is one more than the previous record of 80 held by Brooke Wyckoff.
FRESHOUR WILL NOW BREAK A RECORD OF HER OWN
Mara Freshour moved into a tie with former Seminole Glenda Stokes for first place on the all-time games-played list at Florida State. When she suits up and plays against Arizona State on Monday, FSU's senior captain will officially own the record for most games played in a Florida State career with 131.
ANOTHER FIRST ROUND WIN
Head coach Sue Semrau kept her impressive streak alive Saturday. By beating the Aggies, Semrau is still undefeated in the first round of the NCAA Tournament as she is now 6-0 in those types of games.
TYING THE PROGRAM-BEST FOR ASSISTS
Mara Freshour's eight assists against North Carolina A&T ties the FSU NCAA Tournament record for most assists in a game. Freshour joins LaQuinta Neely and Holly Johnson as the only Seminoles to dish out that many assists in an NCAA Tournament game.
DAVIS-CAIN TIES A RECORD, TOO
Tanae Davis-Cain's nine three-point attempts ties the FSU NCAA Tournament record for most triples in a game. In fact, Davis-Cain already owns that record as she attempted nine three-points in both tourney games last season. Mara Freshour also attempted nine last year in the game against Oklahoma State.
OVERALL TEAM ASSIST IN THE TOURNAMENT
FSU's 23 assists as a team ties the program record for most assists in an NCAA Tournament game. The only other time the Seminoles have accrued that many assists occurred in the 2005 tournament against Richmond.
A LOT OF POINTS FOR HARVIN
Alysha Harvin's game-high 18 points was her highest offensive output in 23 games this season.