No. 3 seed Florida State didn’t experience too much trouble in winning its opening round NCAA tournament game on Friday. Missouri needed to work a bit more to get through its first round contest.
Florida State (26-6) rolled to an 87-66 victory over Western Illinois in that match-up. In the other game, The No. 6 Missouri (22-10) rallied to surprise No. 11 South Florida 66-64 in another first round game
After differing results, Florida State and Missouri will then meet in the second round on Sunday at the Donald L. Tucker Center in Tallahassee, Fla.
For the Seminoles, they got plenty of help from Shakayla Thomas. She ended up with 23 points and 14 rebounds.
“We knew they were a great three-point shooting team, and it would be hard to guard their actions,” Florida State coach Sue Semrau said in a postgame press conference. “I was very proud of the way we adjusted in the second half and the way we rebounded the ball.”
Thomas kept finding good chances to score, and Western Illinois just was not able to stop her.
“I come out in the second half of games and I guess I get energy from my teammates,” Thomas said “They’re always in my ear like ‘play your game, this is what you can do on a daily basis.’ I think it just drove me to do what I do best, and that’s help (the team win).”
Sierra Michaelis got the game-winning bucket with 0.6 seconds remaining, and that proved to be just enough for Missouri to get the win.
Michaels led the way with 16 points, 13 of which came in the second-half and helped Missouri rally for the victory and a shot into the second round in consecutive seasons for the first time in program history.
“I think I was just in the right place at the right time,” Michaelis said. “We executed the play just like Coach (Robin) Pingeton drew it up. It was a good pass by Amber Smith, and I was just there.
Cierra Porten finished with 11 points and 12 rebounds while Lindsey Cunningham (13 points) while Sophie Cunningham (12 points) also helped as four Missouri player posted in double figures.
The Tigers really rallied in the second half. They were down 38-25 before outscoring South Florida 41-26 in the second half.
In addition, they made 49 percent from the field in that second half. Pingeton said she told her team at halftime that they really needed to step things up and play better in the final two quarters.
They players did what the coach wanted.
“We really challenged the players during halftime to be more aggressive,” Pingeton told reporters. “I did not like how we responded to adversity in the first half.”