Saturday, March 22, 2008
Quicker Noles upset sixth-seeded Ohio State
By Beth Mowins Special to ESPN.com
DES MOINES, Iowa -- What was commonly thought of as the last team included in the field of 64 provided the biggest upset Saturday as the women's NCAA tournament tipped off.
Tanae Davis-Cain's defense and 27 points helped Florida State send OSU home early.
Florida State received an 11th seed on Selection Monday, an NCAA berth most didn't see coming. But now, after shocking sixth-seeded Ohio State 60-49 here, the Seminoles advance to play Oklahoma State on Monday in the second round.
Saturday night's game was practically over in the opening minutes. Florida State jumped right at Ohio State, taking a 7-0 lead. It was clear from the start that contrasting styles -- Florida State played with the typical quickness of an ACC team, while OSU of the Big Ten plays a more methodical, half-court game -- would work in the Seminoles' favor. They had speed at every position and came out the aggressor.
Florida State's speed and man-to-man defense really disrupted OSU offensively, and Tanae Davis-Cain was the key. The 5-foot-11 junior guard hit 5-of-9 3-point attempts to finish with 27 points, but her defensive efforts were just as important. Davis-Cain did a wonderful job shutting down OSU senior sharpshooter Marscilla Packer on the perimeter. Packer just wasn't able to get the ball anywhere near a position to shoot it.
Florida State also put great ball pressure on the Buckeyes as they brought the ball up court, which made it even more difficult to find Packer on the rare occasions she might have had some space to work with. Packer finished 3-for-10 from 3-point range, but when the game was still being contested, she only mustered four or five shots.
And for as good as freshman Jantel Lavender is in the low post, it became clear the Big Ten Player of the Year still must develop her passing game out of the post. Lavender was effective early on -- midway through the first half, she was the only OSU player that had scored (though FSU led 18-9 by then) -- but Florida State sophomore Jacinta Moore kept Lavender from having an even bigger night than she did (team-high 21 points, but on 10-for-24 shooting).
Prior to Saturday's game, Davis-Cain admitted that Florida State felt like it had something to prove. But, she added, the Seminoles played a tough schedule this season and knew they had done their job in coming into the tournament prepared. And now, for the second year in a row, Florida State has pulled off an upset (the Seminoles shocked Stanford on its home floor in the second round last March).
On Saturday, the Seminoles played extremely confident, in control and executed very well. The only question after the game was whether Davis-Cain would get the defensive assignment on Oklahoma State's Andrea Riley come Monday.
Beth Mowins is a regular contributor to ESPN.com's women's basketball coverage.