TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - The No. 24-ranked Florida State women's basketball team sent its five seniors out in style by edging past No. 9 Maryland, 72-71, on Thursday in the last game of the season at the Donald L. Tucker Center.
The Seminoles (21-7, 11-6 in the ACC) celebrated "Senior Night" and clinched fourth-place in the ACC and a bye in next week's conference tournament in Greensboro, N.C.
"I'm so happy for these seniors," Florida State head coach Sue Semrau said. "I know that they (Maryland) are a great basketball team and we knew we'd have to sustain runs. That was quite a run that they made and extremely impressive, and for us to have built that type of lead, I credit our effort. We battled and that's what we needed to do to beat a team that is, in my opinion, one of the best teams in the country. Credit to our seniors, to all the kids on our team, that just continue to fight when things get tough."
Senior guard Alexa Deluzio's free throw with seven seconds left lifted FSU to its first victory over a Top 10 team since 2009 and ninth ever in school history.
Deluzio had just missed a pair but got a chance to win it after Maryland was whistled for a lane violation on her second free throw.
Florida State led 64-47 with 4:31 to go before the Terrapins stormed back to tie it at 71 on Chloe Pavlech's 3-pointer with 10 seconds left.
After the Seminoles inbounded the ball, Maryland tried to trap Deluzio, but instead fouled her, setting her up for the game-winning free throw.
"Our teammates made it very special for us, so I'm very thankful for that," Deluzio said. "And beating a Top 10 team on your senior night, it really can't get much better, so thanks to my team."
The Noles had four players score in double figures and were led by seniors Chelsea Davis (19 points), Leonor Rodriguez (16) and Deluzio (14).
Junior forward Natasha Howard added 11 points and eight rebounds.
FSU missed its first seven shots and didn't get on the board until Davis hit a layup 6:20 into the first half to make the score 8-2.
The Seminoles used a 16-2 run over a five minute span to take control of the game. Following another layup by Davis, junior guard Cheetah Delgado stole a Tierney Pfirman pass and cruised in for an uncontested layup to push the lead to 21-16 five minutes before the half.
Maryland closed the gap late in the first half and tied the game on a three by Katie Rutan, but Rodriguez buried a trey at the 33-second mark to give the Seminoles a 29-25 halftime lead.
Back-to-back treys from Deluzio and Rodriguez pushed the FSU lead to 42-35 five minutes into the second frame.
A layup by Tianna Hawkins closed the FSU lead to just 3, 47-44, with 11:57 left, but the Seminoles scored nine straight and took a 12-point lead, 56-44, when Davis drilled a pair of free throws three minutes later.
Delgado's spectacular pass-fake for a layup in traffic gave Florida State a commanding 61-46 lead with 6:27 remaining in the contest and a Davis free throw gave FSU its largest lead, 64-47, with 4:31 left.
A putback by Alyssa Thomas brought Maryland within 4 with 1:03 remaining, and her three-point play with 28 seconds left brought Maryland within a point, 69-68.
After senior point guard Morgan Toles buried two free throws, Pavlech tied the game with a three before Deluzio sealed the win.
Florida State closes out the regular season on Sunday at 1 p.m. at Virginia in Charlottesville, Va.
"Our kids get a taste and a vision for who we can be going down the stretch," Semrau said. "This team is ready to do something special."