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Florida State's loss to NC State was their season in microcosm: flashes of brilliance followed by frustrating mistakes because of poor point guard play, culminating in an inability to put away an opponent with lesser talent. For the Wolfpack, their win reflected their mental toughness and ability to bounce back from a frustrating season to create a new narrative in postseason play. The Seminoles led by as many as 10 points in the second half behind the hot shooting of guard Alexa Deluzio and an 11-2 edge in points off turnovers. That gave the Noles a 7 point halftime lead; the only reason NC State was in the game was because they were 5-10 from the three point line. FSU missed a chance to really bury the Wolfpack Women when posts Cierra Bravard and Chelsea Davis were both out of the game.
In the second half, FSU started pummeling NC State inside with Bravard before the Wolfpack hit back-to-back threes to improbably tie the game up at 47. Deluzio pushed the lead up to 6 before a spate of FSU turnovers helped NC State tied the game at 55. The Pack finally took the lead on a three by Kastanek where she was so wide open and had so much time to shoot that she ordered a drink and counted the crowd before she released the ball. The Pack had made a key adjustment in the second half as they started fronting Bravard with Holston, and the Noles didn't have the improvising skills needed to adjust to that without a great point guard. Deluzio kept the team close and a rare three pointer by Natasha Howard gave FSU a 65-64 lead with 6:21 left. State kept hanging around and was down by 2 with 1:23 left until defensive specialist Emili Tasler hit an unlikely three to give State a 1 point lead. Tasler then glued herself to Deluzio on every subsequent possession, and FSU wasn't able improvise a different play no matter how many times Deluzio tried to shake Tasler off with a screen. As a result, FSU went scoreless for the last 3:38 of the game.
What's Next For Florida State: The season is done for FSU, the most disappointing team in the ACC by a wide margin. Bravard will move on to the WNBA and the Noles will reload with plenty of talent. We'll see if the pieces fit together any better next season, in the meantime the tournament will come to Tallahassee while FSU is left to wonder what might have been.
What's Next For NC State: The Wolfpack will move on to a date with Duke. Interestingly, the last time NC State beat FSU, it was during the 2007 ACC tournament. They knocked off an undefeated Duke team in the very next round. Fortunately for the Pack, they employ a deep bench, as only Kastanek played more than 30 minutes against FSU. They will need to stay even on the boards, limit turnovers, and above all else continue to shoot lights out from three to beat Duke. With Holston, Kastanek and Goodwin-Coleman, they certainly have a puncher's chance against the Blue Devils.
- Bonae Holston, NCS: 15 points, 12 rebounds, 3 steals. Holston gave NC State the inside-outside balance they badly needed against a much bigger club.
- Marissa Kastanek, NCS: 21 points, 4-6 from three. Kastanek regained the shooting touch that's been missing the past few weeks, getting a number of open looks from both short and long range.
- Alexa Deluzio, FSU: 26 points, 2 assists. Deluzio carried the team for long stretches when their bigs were in foul trouble.
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