GREENSBORO, N.C. – The ninth-seeded Florida State Seminoles overtook the eighth-seeded Miami Hurricanes for a 72-67 overtime win in second-round play of the 2014 Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) Women’s Basketball Tournament played at the Greensboro Coliseum on Thursday.
Natasha Howard finished with 30 points and 16 rebounds and four blocks while Yashira (Cheetah) Delgado accounted for another 20 points – a career high – to lead the Seminoles offense.
Five different Miami players contributed to the Hurricanes’ offense led by Necole Sterling (14 points, 3 rebounds) and Krystal Saunders (12 points, 4 rebounds).
“That’s always a great rivalry,” Florida State head coach Sue Semrau said.
“It’s always a great game when we play Miami. And credit Miami, I thought they did a great job of controlling a lot of things early. The main thing that we talked about was Miami had a 51 to 36 advantage over us on the boards in our last game. And we hammered home how important rebounding was going to be, and we held them to 31 rebounds. And I think that was the difference in the basketball game.”
It was an evenly matched game from the start between the two in-state rivals.
While Miami (16-14, 8-8) went ahead 17-11 with 8:53 to play in the opening half, Delgado and Howard helped Florida State (20-10, 7-9) eventually reduce its deficit down to one point, trailing 23-22, just four minutes later.
The Hurricanes put together a late offensive rally that pushed their lead back up to seven points, 33-26, by halftime.
In recording her 40th career double-double, Howard set her sights on getting the Seminoles the lead back throughout the second half and initiated a variety of scoring runs to do so.
The Seminoles put together a quick 6-0 burst to begin the second half and came to within one point again, trailing 33-32, before the Hurricanes answered back with their own 7-0 run to gain an eight-point advantage, 40-32, with 14:06 to play.
It was a back-and-forth dynamic that stayed in play throughout the game.
Every time Florida State would make an offensive surge, Miami would match it with clutch perimeter shooting.
For the game, the Hurricanes made 8 of 15 three-point shots, a 53-percenter conversion rate, and finished with the third-best field goal percentage beyond the arc (minimum 10 attempts) in ACC Tournament history.
With 6:26 remaining, Saunders hit a three to extend the score to 52-47, but the Seminoles continued to scrap for every ball and eventually outrebounding Miami 39-31.
The effort paid off as Florida State pulled to within a point after scoring five unanswered, trailing 55-54 with two minutes showing on the clock.
Even as both teams continued to trade points, they remained deadlocked at 58-58 and prepared for overtime as the final horn to end regulation time sounded.
Sterling took the tip that Howard won to start the extra period and quickly took it to the rack for a layup to put Miami ahead 60-58.
Emiah Bingley hit a three, her only successful convert of the game, to give FSU its first lead in overtime which Howard extended to 63-60 with a fadeaway jumper soon after.
Ivey Slaughter (4 points, 6 rebounds) continued the Seminoles run and widened the gap to five points, 65-60, with 1:33 to play.
Miami’s Adrienne Motley (11 points, 5 rebounds, 3 assists) scored two from the free throw line, while Suriaya McGuire (10 points, 3 rebounds) converted a steal into an easy layup to bring the score back down to one.
With the shot clock counting down to expiration, Delgado dropped a decisive three-pointer that put FSU ahead 68-64 with 31.1 seconds remaining on the clock.
A combination of Miami turnovers and successful free throw shooting by the Seminoles extended the lead far enough and out of the Hurricanes’ reach to secure the win for FSU.
“I did think this would be one of the best games in the tournament because there was so much coaching going on, so much,” Miami coach Katie Meier said.
“And Florida State made some tremendous adjustments in their zone this game that they did not make in our last game, and they frustrated us.”
Coming out on top playing in the Tournament’s first overtime game, the Seminoles looked to recover quickly as they moved into a matchup with the top-seeded Notre Dame Fighting Irish on Friday at 2 p.m.