FSU win features drama UConn win didn't

March, 28, 2010

DAYTON, Ohio -- If the first game of the day in Dayton showed what the tournament appears more and more likely to be remembered for in another week, the second game offered a good example of what fans who watched it the past two weeks will remember.

Big shots, surprise stats, seedings thrown out the window and drama to the buzzer.

In this case, right down to Mississippi State star Alexis Rack's long 3-pointer.

But unlike four years ago in Dayton, fortune was not with an SEC underdog from the state of Mississippi. Ole Miss knocked off Courtney Paris and Oklahoma on that afternoon, but No. 3 seed Florida State held on for a 74-71 win against seventh-seeded Mississippi State on Sunday and earned the right to a rematch with Connecticut.

  • Neither Florida State's Courtney Ward nor Rack seemed destined for her best game of the season in the early going. Ward picked up two first-half fouls, and Gray suffered from a long day of being guarded by Seminoles defensive ace Angel Gray. But down the stretch, Ward simply came up with more plays en route to 14 points, seven assists, five rebounds and just two turnovers. She drove the comeback in the second half and made associate coach Cori Close look prophetic.

    "People talk about Jacinta Monroe a lot, and obviously she's a spectacular player, but we go as Courtney Ward goes," Close said the day before the game.

    Ward went in the second half, and Florida State is going to its first regional final as a result.

  • Alysha Harvin was the star, but the Seminoles got big lifts from complementary players in Alexa Deluzio and Cierra Bravard. Particularly in the first half, Deluzio provided relief from Ward's two fouls with six points and an assist. At one point, with the Bulldogs making noise about pulling away at 22-18, she hit a baseline jumper, altered a shot on the other end, got the defensive rebound and went end-to-end to score again to tie things up. Bravard also came through in the opening half but saved her most important touches for post finishes down the stretch.

  • With as good a job as the Seminoles (particularly Gray) did on Rack throughout the game, you have to give full credit to Mississippi State's Chanel Mokango and Mary Kathryn Govero. Stopping Rack was supposed to be the recipe for stopping Mississippi State, but Govero's outside shooting and Mokango's play inside against Monroe were the reasons this came down to Rack's potential tying shot at the buzzer.

  • Graham Hays covers college sports for espnW, including softball and soccer. Hays began with ESPN in 1999.



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