TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Leticia Romero scored 11 points to go along with seven rebounds and six assists, and Adut Bulgak added nine points and 13 rebounds to push Florida State past FGCU and into the Sweet 16 for the third time in program history 65-47.
FSU (31-4) returns to Greensboro, N.C., site of the ACC tournament earlier this month, to face either Arizona State or Arkansas-Little Rock in the NCAA Regional Semifinal.
“At the beginning of the year, we didn’t know how good we could be,” FSU coach Sue Semrau said. “So to know we’re advancing to the sweet 16 is really sweet, if you will. At the same time, it doesn't feel like enough. That's a good feeling to have.”
The Seminoles used a pair of runs at the beginning of each half to make quick work of the seventh-seeded Eagles.
Bolstered by an announced crowd of 4,772, FSU raced out to a 17-2 lead less than five minutes into the game.
FGCU, meanwhile, appeared flustered by the atmosphere and missed four of its first five field goal attempts and turned the ball over five times in the game’s first five minutes.
“They blitzed us pretty good at the very beginning,” FGCU coach Karl Smesko said. “…Unfortunately, Florida State’s really good.”
The Eagles settled down right around the same time a busload of late-arriving FGCU students made its way into the arena.
FGCU hit a few shots, pushed the pace and went into halftime down only 36-28.
But with an upset-minded opponent within striking distance, the Seminoles found another gear to begin the second half.
Led by surges from Romero and Bulgak, Florida State began the last 20 minutes on a 15-5 run that pushed its advantage to 20 points.
Freshman Shakayla Thomas paced FSU with 12 points, pushing her NCAA tournament total to 29 in two games.
The Seminoles shot 46.3 percent from the field and connected on 5 of 18 3-point attempts.
Smesko in his post-game press conference heaped high praise on the Seminoles, saying that, at times, they look like the second-best team in the country and that they have Final-Four potential.
He didn’t name Connecticut as the nation’s best, but he didn’t have to. With nine national titles and 79 wins in their last 80 contests, the Huskies loom large over women’s college basketball.
But, like UConn, FSU is among the last 16 teams still playing. And they believe that they’re as good as any of them.
“I think I’m on the best team in the country, personally,” Bulgak said. “When we’re at our best, I think we’re really unstoppable.”
*FSU Sports Information