TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (Seminoles.com) – No. 22/21 Florida State Women’s Basketball executed its game plan well. It just couldn’t contain Syracuse point guard Tiana Mangakahia.
The junior guard from Brisbane, Australia, scored an opponent season-high 44 points against the Seminoles (21-7, 9-6) as Florida State fell 94-88 to the 17th-ranked Orange (21-7, 10-5) in a high-scoring thriller on Thursday night at the Tucker Center.
“I’m just really proud of this team,” FSU head coach Sue Semrau said. “We did not have an answer for their point guard. We played her different ways off the ball screens and she made us pay in every way. It would have been nice to have more bodies to put on her and she played a tremendous game, but I thought we did too.
“To score 88 points, out-rebound them… they’re the best rebounding team in the league, they shoot 30 threes a game, we held them to nine, so they executed the game-plan and we just missed a couple shots down the stretch.”
— FSU Women’s Hoops (@fsuwbb) March 1, 2019
The loss drops Florida State to sixth place in the ACC standings with one regular season game to go on Sunday at Georgia Tech at 1 p.m. A win by the Seminoles assures them of a sixth seed in next week’s ACC Tournament, while a loss could put FSU as far as eighth in the conference.
The Seminoles showed quite a bit of resilience with just eighth healthy bodies once again. Junior guard Nausia Woolfolk scored a career-high 29 points on 11-of-18 shooting, including 17 in the second half. With Florida State trailing by its largest deficit at 11 with 9:09 left, Woolfolk willed the Seminoles to a 79-79 tie on a personal 7-0 run with 4:17 left.
Mangakahia responded with another weaving layup to the basket, but Woolfolk came back with a layup to knot the game at 81-81 with 3:11 left. Redshirt junior Kiah Gillespie then helped FSU stay even with Syracuse by getting a layup to tie it at 85-85 with 1:57 left.
Mangakahia once again took over from there, scoring on a fast break and then hitting seven free throws down the stretch as FSU tried to extend the game.
“I’m proud of them, I mean I really am,” Semrau added on what she told her team in the locker room after. “They executed the game plan, and they practiced really well these past days to prepare for this. I don’t want to be a coach that all of a sudden the expectations change. They have exceeded everyone’s expectations. Are we satisfied? No, but we are very content with who we are and we understand, they don’t need to be something they aren’t. It’s about the process, the wins and losses will come but it’s about the process.”
Freshman center Valencia Myers had a career performance with 19 points, going 5-of-7 from the floor and 9-of-9 from the free throw line. Syracuse did not have an answer for Myers’ post moves, as she at times dominated in her 24 minutes of action.
“I had two great practices before this and it carried over,” Myers said. “My team and the guards trusted me to keep giving me the ball and that helps build my confidence.”
Gillespie added 20 points for FSU, her team-leading 10th 20-point game of the season. Junior guard Nicki Ekhomu added 12 points, while freshman guard Morgan Jones contributed with eight points.
FSU will look to reach double-digit ACC wins for the fifth straight season with its regular-season finale at Georgia Tech on Sunday at 1 p.m. The game will be live streamed on the ACC Network Extra.
Florida State is also assured of beginning the ACC Tournament with a single bye in the second round that begins on Thursday, March 7, at the Greensboro Coliseum.