March 16, 2006
Courtesy of Associated Press
Experience in the NCAA women’s tournament could be the difference Saturday when sixth-seeded Florida State meets Louisiana Tech, the No. 11 seed, in a first-round mathcup of the San Antonio regional at the Pepsi Center in Denver.
Florida State (19-9) is making a program-record fourth-straight tournament appearance and sixth overall. Louisiana Tech (26-4), though, has appeared in all 25 NCAA tournaments, has three titles and 65 all-time tournament wins.
The Seminoles have lost both matchups against the Lady Techsters by an average of 21 points. This is the first meeting between the teams since Louisiana Tech posted an 88-72 win Nov. 19, 1998.
“Louisiana Tech is a great team,” Florida state coach Sue Semrau said. “I know Chris Long well and he has done a great job as a first-year coach. It will be a tough one out there but it’s something we will look forward to.
“We know we have to go out to Denver and take care of business. We can only take it one game at a time and we won’t look past anything.”
This season, Florida State finished fourth in the ACC, a conference that included top-five teams North Carolina, Duke and Maryland.
Semrau’s team features a balanced attack with four players scoring in double figures, including 6-foot-4 freshman center Brittany Miller.
Miller, coming off the best game of her career, scored a career-best 23 points on 11-of-16 shooting from the field and added seven rebounds in the Seminoles’ 64-60 loss to North Carolina State on March 3 during the ACC Tournament.
Louisiana Tech (26-4) received an automatic bid after winning the Western Athletic Conference tournament Saturday by erasing an early eight-point deficit to rout New Mexico State 63-39.
Tasha Williams scored 19 points and Aarica Ray-Boyd added 15 for the Lady Techsters, who are making their first NCAA tournament appearance under Long.
Despite past success in getting to the tournament, Long said his school was disrespected by being seeded low.
“I thought we might get a little higher seed,” Long said. “We’re the 16th best team in the country according to the college coaches. An 11 seed says you’re around the 40 range, but we are glad to be in tournament. We are excited about playing Saturday. The way to get respect is to win.”
Williams, a senior guard averaging 13.1 points and 5.2 rebounds per game, was named WAC tournament MVP.
“I know this team feeds off my energy,” Williams said. “I was concerned about the slow start. I knew my team would follow me.”
Ray-Boyd, also a senior guard, leads Lousiana Tech with 14.1 points per game.
The winner of this contest plays the winner of No. 3 seed Stanford and No. 14 seed Southeast Missouri State in the second round Monday.