GREENSBORO, N.C. – The fourth-seeded and No. 23-ranked Florida State women’s basketball team fought back from an nine-point second half deficit to tie first-seeded and sixth-ranked Duke, but the Blue Devils hung on for a 72-66 victory on Saturday in the ACC Tournament Semifinals at the Greensboro Coliseum.
Florida State senior forward Chelsea Davis scored 17 points, while senior guard Alexa Deluzio and junior forward Natasha Howard both chipped in with 13 points apiece.
Senior guard Leonor Rodriguez and junior guard Cheetah Delgado each dished six assists for a Seminoles squad (22-9) that tallied 17 assists and just 12 turnovers.
The Blue Devils (29-2) were led by forward Haley Peters, who scored 17 points and grabbed 13 rebounds, while center Elizabeth Williams added 11 points and three blocks and guard Tricia Liston scored 17.
The Blue Devils held a 28-10 advantage on the glass at halftime and a 43-32 edge for the game.
FSU had just one turnover at halftime and forced Duke into 17 miscues for the game.
“I’m extremely proud of this group,” Florida State head coach Sue Semrau said. “I look at today’s effort, and we had a lot of great opportunities and a lot of great looks. I don’t think until you fight and really pour your heart out like we did today that you really know how to go forward. I think we’ve grown as a team and grown as a program and I’m excited. Credit Duke and their strength. They are tremendous young ladies and tremendous athletes. They did a great job on the boards this afternoon.
“It’s exciting to know that you already have an opportunity to be in the NCAA Tournament. We’ll give (the players) a little bit of rest. We’ll come back, really get after it fundamentally and see who we draw next Monday.”
The NCAA Selection Show is Monday, March 18 at 7 p.m. on ESPN.
Duke jumped out to a 9-0 lead as Florida State missed its first six field goal attempts to start the game. FSU got on the board at the 15:36 mark in the first half when Deluzio knocked down a corner trey-ball and the Seminoles made four straight buckets to quickly cut the Blue Devil lead to 3, 13-10, after Howard’s layup six minutes into the game.
The Blue Devils led by eight with under a minute to go in the first half before Delgado scored a quick five points. The 5-2 point guard had a driving fastbreak layup with 25 seconds left and then just barely beat the halftime buzzer with a half court bank shot to send Florida State into the locker room trailing 34-31.
Florida State was down by 9, 51-42, with 10:31 remaining in the game, but Deluzio buried a triple 15 seconds later to spark a 13-4 FSU run.
Howard made consecutive layups to bring FSU within 2, 55-53, with 5:44 left before Morgan Toles knocked down a pair of free throws at the 5:18 mark to tie the game.
After Liston broke the tie by nailing a three-pointer, Deluzio fired back with a trey of her own and the two teams were all square at 58-58 with 4:39 left.
Duke moved ahead by 4, 62-58, on a layup by Richa Jackson with 3:26 remaining, but Deluzio buried two free throws 10 seconds later.
Blue Devils’ freshman point guard Alexis Jones answered with a runner at the 2:57 mark that made the score 64-60.
FSU grabbed three offensive rebounds on its next possession, but missed four shots, including three trey attempts before Duke made a steal and Jones connected on a layup to push the lead to 66-60 with 2:11 left.
Duke went 8-for-8 from the line in the final minute to secure the victory and a spot in Sunday’s ACC Tournament Championship game.
Davis became the 30th Seminole to score 1,000 career points at the 5:42 mark in the first half. She joins Deluzio, Howard and senior reserve forward Chasity Clayton as current Seminoles in the 1,000-point club, making Florida State the only team in the entire country with four 1,000-point scorers.