Feb. 22, 2009
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — Trailing for more than 30 minutes, No. 11 Florida State was on the verge of relinquishing sole possession of the Atlantic Coast Conference lead league against 10th-place Miami on Sunday.
“It was tough from the get-go,” Florida State junior center Jacinta Monroe said. “We didn’t come out focused. We didn’t have the energy.”
What the Seminoles did have was enough resolve to overcome a 16-point deficit and a little good fortune in the waning seconds to escape with a 59-58 victory.
Monroe scored 14 of her team-high 16 points in the second half and Tanae Davis-Cain added 15 for the Seminoles, but it was Alysha Harvin who put Florida State within one victory of their first ACC title.
Harvin sank two free throws with 8.7 seconds remaining and the Seminoles (23-5, 11-1) withstood a desperation putback attempt by Miami’s Shenise Johnson, after she missed a game-tying free-throw attempt, to prevail.
“We came out of that one by the skin of our teeth,” Seminoles’ coach Sue Semrau said, after the Seminoles won their 11th ACC game for the first time in school history. “That was a Miami team that fought their guts out. This game came down to who was going to make the last mistake. Fortunately, it wasn’t us.”
LaToya Cunningham led the Hurricanes (13-14, 2-10) with 20 points and Epiphany Woodson added 13.
Miami, which limited FSU to a season-low 19 points in the first and led by 14 at the half, rebuffed three go-ahead possessions by the Seminoles in the second half before finally relinquishing the lead. Courtney Ward tied the game at 57-57 by making the first of two free-throw attempts, before teammate Angel Gray came up with a steal as the Hurricanes tried to push the ball up the floor.
Hurricanes’ junior Diane Barnes, thinking her team trailed, fouled Harvin away from the ball with 8.7 seconds to go.
Harvin calmly sank both free throws to give the Seminoles their first lead since the 10:33 mark in the first half.
“My heart was beating pretty fast, being that the game was on the line and I didn’t want to disappoint my teammates and my coaches,” Harvin said.
The Hurricanes earned a final reprieve when Davis-Cain fouled Johnson on a drive to the basket with 5.2 seconds to play. Johnson, an 85 percent free throw shooter, converted the first attempt but missed the second. Her follow attempt bounced off the rim and the horn sounded as the players scrambled on the floor for the loose ball.
“We did some silly things at the end of the game and that will cost you on the road,” Miami coach Katie Meier said. “Our hearts are hurting right now.”
The Hurricanes were coming off a gut-wrenching overtime loss at No. 23 Virginia on Thursday.
The Seminoles have won 14 of their last 15 games.
“We came out and played complacent and Miami slapped us in the face,” said Davis Cain, after the Seminoles missed 25 of their first 31 shot attempts. “We didn’t prove we need to be No. 1 in the ACC.”
Florida State can clinch a share of its first league title with a victory over Virginia at home on Tuesday.
Head coach Sue Semrau
On Miami’s Shenise Johnson missing the potential game-tying free throw:
“I am thrilled that she missed the second one. We didn’t put ourselves in a very good situation there.”
On the home crowd’s role in helping FSU earn the victory:
“I don’t think that we are who we are in the second half today without the crowd. It happened when we were playing Duke and when we were playing Texas A&M. The crowd has really been the sixth player for us. We have a big game coming up on Tuesday and we sure are going to need them then, too.”
Junior forward Alysha Harvin
On making what would be the game-winning free throws:
“It was a lot of pressure but in practice we do pressure free throws. So I am used to being in a pressure situation. But it is a little different in the game because there’s more people watching. I didn’t want to disappoint my teammates or anybody so I just had to focus and knock them down.”
On wanting to have the ball in pressure situations:
“Confidence is everything. I feel like I have that. If the ball is in my hands in the last seconds I am going to go up and try to draw a foul and try to win the game.”
SCHOOL-RECORD 11 TH ACC WIN
By defeating Miami, Florida State earned its school-record 11th Atlantic Coast Conference victory of the season. The previous high for league wins in a year by the women’s basketball program was 10, which the team has achieved three times – all in the Sue Semrau coaching era.
NEW RECORD HOLDER
Junior forward Jacinta Monroe made history Sunday as she officially became the all-time blocks leader in FSU women’s basketball history. The Fort Lauderdale, Fla. native finished the game against Miami with two blocks and now has 211 swats in her stellar career. Monroe came into the game with the Hurricanes in a first-place high with former Seminole standout Brooke Wycoff and now will be looking to break another of her records as she is just 10 away from tying Wycoff’s record for blocks in a season. Monroe has 70 blocks this year and the record is 80.
SEASON LOW IN THE FIRST HALF
Florida State couldn’t muster much offense in the first half of the ballgame against Miami and went into the locker room tied for a season low in points in the opening 20 minutes. Against the Hurricanes, FSU had just 19 in the opening period and the team scored the same amount in the win over then-No. 3 Texas A&M earlier this season.
CLOSE TO ANOTHER DOUBLE-DOUBLE
For the second-straight game, Jacinta Monroe came so close to another double-double. FSU’s leading scorer, rebounder and shot-blocker has finished with double-digit points and nine rebounds in back-to-back games.
WHAT A DIFFERENCE A HALF MAKES
After scoring a season-low 19 points in the first half against Miami, FSU came out and dropped 40 points on the Hurricanes in the second half. FSU did this by shooting a much better percentage from the field. FSU was 16.1 percent in the first half and 52.4 percent in the second half. The Seminoles also protected the ball better in period No. 2. In the first half they gave the ball away 12 times and had just five turnovers in the second period.
DAVIS-CAIN BARELY LEAVES THE COURT
Senior guard Tanae Davis-Cain didn’t get much rest against Miami. By game’s end, the Dawson, Ga. native had played a season-high 36 minutes.
ONE WIN AWAY FROM AT LEAST A SHARE OF TITLE
Florida State has two regular-season games left this year and one more win means history will be made. If the Seminoles can win one more this year they will at least have a share of the ACC regular-season title. If they win their final two they will claim the league crown outright. Both scenarios would be program firsts.