Bravard lifts Seminoles past Virginia 78-74
By HANK KURZ Jr.
AP Sports Writer
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (AP) -- Cierra Bravard and No. 19 Florida State were having their way with Virginia, dominating inside and on their way to a lopsided ACC road victory.
And then they were in danger of seeing it all go away.
But Natasha Howard scored inside with 15.4 seconds left and Bravard hit a pair of free throws with 3.9 seconds to play, each time after the Cavaliers closed to within two, and the Seminoles held on for a 78-74 victory on Monday night -- and for certain a lesson learned.
"I think we just kind of lost focus and we might have gotten a little comfortable with a 15-, 16-point lead," Bravard said of the lead that was 67-51 with 7:23 to play. "We weren't hustling after loose ball for a good 5 or 6 minutes there and we let them back in the game."
Bravard finished with 22 points and nine rebounds, and not until the second of her free throws in the final seconds fell did coach Sue Semrau allow herself a sigh of relief.
And now, she hopes, her team will gain from having held on.
"Any time that you can weather that kind of a comeback on the road in the ACC, that's got to be good for you because we need our confidence to be built," Semrau said.
The Seminoles (19-5, 7-2 Atlantic Coast Conference), coming off a 9-point home loss against No. 13 North Carolina, led 39-32 at halftime and used a 14-4 burst to open the second half to seemingly take command until Virginia made its frenetic push to make it close.
Virginia (13-12, 2-7) used a 21-7 run to close to within 74-72 on Ariana Moorer's layup with 47 seconds left, then stole the inbounds pass, but Paulish Kellam was called for traveling while driving to the basket, leading to Howard's basket in the lane at the other end.
"That is a particular move that has not been called in any arena that I've been in this year," Virginia coach Debbie Ryan said of Kellam's attempt a spin move to get to the basket.
She said it was being called last year, but not this year.
Still, Virginia wasn't finished.
After another basket by Virginia's Ataira Frankling with 5 seconds left against made it a 2-point game, Bravard stepped to the line with none of her teammates nearby and made both.
"As a coach, there's nothing better," Semrau said of Bravard's ability at the line, where she was 6 for 6. "You've got a point guard that will do that and a center that will do that."
The Seminoles missed only twice in 22 tries from the line.
Franklin led Virginia with 16 points and China Crosby had 14.
Alexa Deluzio added 15 points and Courtney Ward had 13 for the Seminoles.
Leading 67-51 with 7:23 to play, Florida State seemed well on its way to an easy victory until its shots stopped falling and the Cavaliers suddenly started making everything.
A drive by Franklin, two free throws by Whitny Edwards and four more by Crosby pulled Virginia to 69-62. Bravard hit two free throws, Crosby scored on a drive and Bravard scored inside before Edwards' 3-pointer for Virginia pulled them to within 73-67 with 1:47 left.
Olivia Bresnahan made a free throw for the Seminoles, and Franklin hit a 3-pointer from the right corner with 1:33 to play, making it a four-point game. After the Seminoles missed, Ariana Moorer made her only field goal on a drive with the shot clock running down.
That set up the wild finish, which sent Virginia to its third loss in four games. The Cavaliers look increasingly like a team that will need a huge surge the rest of the way or in the ACC tournament to avoid hosting NCAA tournament games without being in the field.
Updated February 7, 2011