Harvin leads Seminoles past Aggies 83-71
DULUTH, Ga. (AP)—Florida State was supposed to be too big for North Carolina A&T.
Instead, it was the Seminoles’ depth that finally made the difference.
Alysha Harvin scored 18 points to lead five players in double figures and Florida State pulled away late to beat North Carolina A&T 83-71 Saturday in the first round of the NCAA tournament.
Tanae Davis-Cain added 16 points for the third-seeded Seminoles (26-7), who will face Arizona State on Monday night. Arizona State beat Georgia 58-47.
“My goal was just to be that spark for my team,” said Harvin, who had 12 points in the second half.
North Carolina A&T (26-7) trailed only 51-48 about 7 minutes into the second half. Despite not having a starter taller than 6-foot-1 Shantar Waddell, the Aggies finished with a 33-30 edge in rebounds.
“We did have a belief that we were going to win,” said Amber Bland, who had 13 points.
The Aggies, who appeared to tire in the final minutes, lacked the depth to keep up with Florida State, but they impressed Seminoles coach Sue Semrau.
“That kind of pressure that they applied for 40 minutes takes a ton of heart, a ton of buy-in,” Semrau said.
“For 40 minutes, it wasn’t like there was any quit to them.”
Semrau said Harvin and guard Angel Gray helped Florida State pull away.
“It was those two saying ‘Enough is enough,”’ Semrau said. “They just stopped sitting around watching the game happen defensively.”
Ta’Wuana Cook, a 5-foot-8 guard, had 19 points to lead the Aggies. Lamona Smalley had 14 and Jaleesa Sams and Amber Bland each added 13. Bland had a game-high eight rebounds and six assists.
North Carolina A&T’s No. 14 seed is the highest ever for a Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference school. The Aggies were a No. 16 seed in 1994, their only previous NCAA appearance, when they were overwhelmed in a 111-37 loss to Tennessee.
The Aggies showed early this would not be another lopsided loss.
Florida State led 40-31 at halftime and couldn’t stretch the lead in the opening minutes of the second half. Instead, Brittanie Taylor-James’ 3-pointer, followed by Smalley’s basket with 13:28 remaining, cut the lead to 51-48.
Florida State answered with seven straight points, including a 3 by Harvin. The Seminoles pushed the advantage to double digits for good in the final 7 minutes.
“I thought we were a little sluggish throughout the course of the first half and into the start of the second half,” Semrau said.
Florida State was playing its first game since losing to Duke on March 7 in the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament. Senior Mara Freshour said the long break had an effect on the team early in the game.
“You can do as much as possible in practice to try and simulate a game, but you still can’t quite get it,” Freshour said. “Unfortunately, it took us a half to kind of figure it out.”
Florida State needs to beat Arizona State Monday night to advance to the round of 16 for only the second time in school history. The Seminoles made it that far in 2007, then lost to LSU.
The No. 3 seed is the highest in Florida State’s history.
Freshour, who tied a school record by playing in the 130th game of her career, had 14 points and eight assists for Florida State. Two 6-foot-4 players, Cierra Bravard and Jacinta Monroe, each had 11 points for the Seminoles. Monroe blocked three shots, giving her a school-record 81 for the season.
Florida State made 57.1 percent of its shots from the field, limiting its opportunity for offensive rebounds. Bravard led the Seminoles with only five rebounds.