March 25, 2008
DES MOINES, IOWA –
Even in defeat the Florida State women’s basketball team showed that it belonged in the NCAA Tournament. The 11th-seeded Seminoles battled for 45 minutes but couldn’t pull off the upset of the No. 3 seed and 13th-ranked Oklahoma State as they fell, 73-72, in overtime of the second round of the New Orleans Regional at the Wells Fargo Arena on Monday (March 24).
The Seminoles’ season came to an end with a 19-14 record. Oklahoma State improved to 27-7 and will face LSU in the Sweet 16.
Junior Mara Freshour (Nashville, Ind.) canned a pair of three pointers in the final minute of overtime to tie the game at 72. As Oklahoma State sophomore Andrea Riley went to put up a shot at the end of overtime, Florida State guard Shante Williams (Jacksonville, Fla.) was whistled for a foul with 0.7 left on the clock. Riley missed her first free throw attempt but hit the second to give the Cowgirls the victory.
“I am proud of my team, we found a way to compete,” FSU head coach Sue Semrau said. “It was a great game. There were 20 lead changes and 17 ties, it says a lot about the two teams. Look at Jacinta (Monroe) she put up a double-double with four fouls. Mara found a way to tie the game up. I’m excited about the future of Florida State women’s basketball.”
Three Seminoles reached double figures, led by 20 from Freshour. The guard nailed four three pointers to finish the season with a school record 66 three balls. Recording her third double-double of the season and the eighth of her career was forward Jacinta Monroe (Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.) with 14 points and 13 rebounds. Five players grabbed four or more board as FSU out-rebounded Oklahoma State 73-72.
Monday’s game was the final of a spectacular career for Williams. Her seven assists on the night pushed her Florida State career record to 451. She also had 19 points and six rebounds as well two blocks. Monroe had one block to finish the season with 78, which is just two off the FSU single-season record set by Brooke Wyckoff in 1997-98.
Oklahoma State barely out-shot the Seminoles, 36.8 percent (28-of-76) to 36.6 percent (26-of-71), but FSU had the upper hand behind the arc – 28.6 percent (6-of-21) to 4-of 24 (16.7 percent) – and at the free throw line – 66.7 percent (14-of-21) to 59.1 percent (13-of-22). Missed free throws did hurt FSU late in the game as it was perfect from the line until Williams and Monroe missed four-straight over the last 20 seconds of regulation and the first 1:37 of overtime.
After keeping the Cowgirls out of the lane in the first half, Oklahoma State got 30 of its final 46 points in the paint as well as 10 second-chance points. Helping the Cowgirls in that department was that Monroe played most of the second half and overtime with four fouls. OSU also scored 14 points in the final 25 minutes off 13 Florida State turnovers.
In the overtime, the Seminoles did not score for the first 3:45 and by that time Oklahoma State had a five-point margin, 70-65. Following a Davis-Cain free throw, Freshour’s first three ball pulled FSU within 70-69 with 59 seconds remaining. Megan Byford put back a rebound to push the margin back to three, but Freshour canned another three with 12 seconds remaining to tie the game before the call on Williams ended the game.
Thanks to offensive rebounding and Florida State miscues, Oklahoma State was able to jump out to a 12-7 lead. The Cowgirls got six of their first eight points from offensive rebounds and four more points from a pair of FSU miscues. The Seminoles tightened up the reins and went on a 10-3 run to grab a 17-15 advantage on a Courtney Ward (Montgomery, Ala.) steal and lay-up.
The teams traded baskets to keep the game even until Freshour went coast-to-coast after a steal then hit a jumper just before the shot clock expired to put FSU up 23-19 with 8:14 remaining in the half.
Unfortunately, that would be the Seminoles last buck for the next six and a half minutes as the Cowgirls went on a 7-0 run to take a 26-23 lead. Snapping the drought was a free throw by Alysha Harvin (Dania, Fla.) who added a put back to tie the game at 26 with 49 seconds left in the half.
Nearly reaching double figures in the first half was Freshour with a team-best nine points. Harvin was close behind with six markers. Monroe had four rebounds while Williams handed out four assists.
Neither team was sharp from the field with Florida State holding the 31.4 percent (11-of-35) to 26.5 percent (9-for-34). Despite being out-rebounded by Oklahoma State, 30-23, the Seminoles had a 16-10 advantage in points in the paint. FSU was also able to get out in transition with nine points off six OSU turnovers.
Out of the locker room the lead see-sawed back and fourth with neither team grabbing more than a three-point advantage until Oklahoma State went up by four, 48-44, at the 11:47 mark. Through the first nine minutes of the second stanza there were three ties and seven lead changes. Back to back Williams’ basket after a Freshour three pointer gave FSU a 51-48 advantage with 10:01 remaining.
Another Florida State drought of just over three minutes allowed the Cowgirls to retake the lead 54-53 at the 6:19 mark. Williams came back with a pair of jumpers to put Florida State out front 57-54 with 5:10 to play. Oklahoma State briefly tied the game at 59 but Williams hit a jumper and converted a three-point play to stake FSU to a 62-59 lead with 3:22 to play.
The Seminoles took a 64-61 advantage at the 1:48 mark on a pair of Monroe free throws and Williams had a chance to put FSU up three with 20 seconds remaining, but she missed the second of two free throws. Danielle Green hit a jumper with 13 seconds left to tie the game then Williams’ game-winner missed the mark at the buzzer.
A fifth-straight trip to the NCAA Tournament should be in the cards for the Seminoles. Williams is the only senior on the team and FSU had the eighth-ranked recruiting class in the nation this fall.