TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Monday night’s highest-ranking matchup in women’s basketball history at the Donald L. Tucker Center produced more twists and turns than a mechanical bull ride.
Fourth-ranked Florida State led by 13 late in the third quarter, got a buzzer-beating 3-pointer from Leticia Romero at the end of regulation to force the first of two overtimes, then swapped leads eight times before falling to No. 8 Texas, 92-88.
In a “Big Monday” match-up of the Big 12 and Atlantic Coast Conference leaders, the Longhorns (21-4) extended the nation’s second longest winning streak to 19 games by beating their second top-four opponent in seven days, snapping the Seminoles’ 10-game winning streak.
Texas closed out the victory by holding the Noles (23-3) without a field goal over the final 3:37. Shakayla Thomas, who led the Noles with 23 points and 11 rebounds, followed Brittany Brown’s layup with a go-ahead free throw for an 85-84 lead with three minutes remaining.
FSU missed its final six shot attempts and Olamide Aborowa’s layup with 1:10 remaining gave the Longhorns a 91-88 lead that the Noles could not overcome.
“It’s the kind of game you want to have in February,” FSU coach Sue Semrau said. “It was a great basketball game…
“Ama [Degbeon] said it best when we were sitting out here, ‘Two years ago we had this game to get in the Elite Eight.’ This is the game we had to play then. We got to play it in February. It’s a great opportunity for us, a great experience, to hit the three to go into overtime and get the stop to go into the second overtime. All of that stuff we will be able to look back on.”
Victims of fatigue related to both foul trouble and additional 10 minutes of play, the Noles couldn’t muster enough defensive stops after building a 35-26 halftime lead. FSU forced 13 first half turnovers to offset foul trouble that limited Romero and senior teammate Ivey Slaughter to two points in eight combined minutes.
“Florida State was really good tonight and they gave us some looks and problems that we really haven’t had in a while,” Texas coach Karen Aston said. “Some of it was uncharacteristic play by our team, but I also have to credit Florida State for the way they defended us and their offensive rebounding was tremendous.”
The Seminoles snared 27 offensive rebounds on the night, converting them into 25 second-chance points, and outscored the Longhorns 24-13 from the free throw line. Those advantages helped keep Texas at bay much of the way as FSU led for nearly 34 minutes despite shooting 34-percent from the floor.
Texas, however, stepped up big in the second half – and beyond – knocking down 20 of 29 shots behind Brooke McCarty’s career-high 29 points and 21 from Ariel Atkins.
Still, the Noles built their largest lead – 59-46 with 13.9 second remaining in the third quarter – on a pair of Maria Conde free throws.
“I think maybe we were a little fatigued and on the defensive end that showed,” Semrau said. “They hit shots and we didn’t. That was a tough stretch for us.”
Attacking the rim and knocking down mid-range jumpers, Atkins scored 16 of her points over the final 10 minutes. Ultimately she was more than the Noles could handle, despite 13 points each from Degbeon and Brown, 12 from Romero and 11 from Imani Wright, who scored all of her points in the first half.
Texas outscored the Noles 22-9 in the fourth quarter to take a 71-68 lead, before Semrau dialed up an inbounds play which sprang Romero for her overtime-forcing 3-pointer from the corner with 1.1 seconds to go in regulation.
Brown opened the first overtime with a jumper as the Noles built a quick 77-73 lead on Chatrice White’s reverse layup. FSU failed to score from the floor over the final 3:08 but White knocked down a free throw to knot the score at 80-all with 15.7 to play and Degbeon corralled a McCarty miss at the opposite end to set up a second overtime.
“Our fight and our resilience, I thought was phenomenal,” said Texas coach Karen Aston. “To be on the road on this kind of environment and have the adversity; we had a lot of people in foul trouble and they hit the shot at the end of regulation. Our team showed a lot of toughness and a lot of resiliency.”
The Seminoles won’t have to wait long to demonstrate their resilience, as they head to Virginia on Thursday with an eye on building on their ACC lead.
“We’re still the same team but we’re going to be better for this,” Semrau said.
“We’re trying to go win the ACC and this is a game we want to have right now to prepare us for the tournament.”
GAME NOTES BY FSU SPORTS INFORMATION:
• Monday night’s classic between FSU and Texas was the first double-OT game the Seminoles had played in 11 years. FSU’s last game that went to two overtimes or longer was a 94-83 triple-OT win over Virginia Tech in Tallahassee on Feb. 19, 2005.
• FSU’s last overtime game in general came on Dec. 3, 2014, at Purdue in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge. FSU won that game 67-64. The Seminoles are now 24-19 all-time in overtime games.
• Junior forward Shakayla Thomas’ 23 points and 11 rebounds marks her eighth career double-double and third this season. Thomas went 9-of-34 overall, with her 34 field goal attempts tying the school record shared by Bev Burnett vs. Georgia Southern on Dec. 16, 1987.
• Thomas now has 14 career 20-point games, including a team-best six this season.
• Senior guard Brittany Brown recorded her 127th career start, tying former player Natasha Howard for the most in FSU history.
• Redshirt junior guard Imani Wright recorded her fourth double-figure performance in six career games vs. Texas. She finished with 11 points and tallied three 3-point field goals, the 13th time this season she has made three or more. Wright’s 56 triples are the eighth-most in a season at FSU.
• For the first time in her career, junior center Ama Degbeon enjoyed back-to-back double-figure games, finishing with 13 points, five rebounds and going 7-of-8 from the line. Her 18 minutes tied for her second-most this season.
• Heading into the Clemson game on Jan. 15, Degbeon was averaging 1.8 points per game. Since that game (eight games), she has averaged 7.4 over the eight-game stretch.
• Texas guard Brooke McCarty’s 29 points and 11 made field goals (11-of-16) were the most by an FSU opposing player this season.
• The Seminoles hoisted 86 field goal attempts, their most since shooting the same amount in an 85-77 loss to Duke in overtime on Jan. 23, 2014.
• It took 26 games for an opponent to shoot 50 percent or better against the Seminoles – Texas shot 50.7 percent.
• FSU was able to come away with more second-chance points (25-20) and lead in bench points (25-19).
• Monday’s game was just the third Top 25 non-conference game for FSU in the month of February.
• FSU is now 4-2 all-time in AP Top 10 matchups, including 1-1 this season. Despite falling Monday, FSU defeated No. 9 Louisville, 72-65, on Jan. 12.
• Texas’ McCarty played all 50 minutes, while Brown led FSU with 45 minutes played.