#13 Florida State 94, Iowa 93: Heartbreak

By BraydonRoberts5 on November 29, 2017 at 10:50 pm
Megan Gustafson's Huge Night Not Enough for Iowa
@IowaWBB/Twitter
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With eight minutes remaining in the fourth quarter, Iowa held a 77-65 lead and looked well on their way to upsetting #13 Florida State. Megan Gustafson was having a phenomenal game offensively, and the rest of the team was helping her shoot the lights out. Then, life showed Iowa fans once again that we can’t have nice things.

Florida State went on a 15-2 run to regain the lead with three minutes left. That lead grew to five before Tania Davis hit a three with 17 seconds remaining to bring things within two. After a foul, Florida State made one of two from the free throw line, keeping things at a one possession game. The Seminoles then fouled, and with eight seconds remaining Makenzie Meyer made her first free throw to cut the Florida State lead to two.

Coach Bluder then instructed Meyer to miss her second, hoping for an offensive rebound and one last shot at the tie. Meyer did miss, but Florida State tracked down the rebound and converted two free throws to ice the game. Davis hit another two with a second remaining, but Florida State quickly inbounded to end the game.

Florida State’s comeback efforts were fueled by Shakayla Thomas, who scored on several trips in a row once Florida State cut the lead to single digits. She had 31 points and 10 rebounds in the game. Imani Wright was the player who broke Iowa’s back, though. She hit four three pointers in the first half, and had two huge 3s in the last three minutes, including one that put the Seminoles up 89-86. Wright had 26 points and seven three pointers in the game. Ama Degbeon and AJ Alix had 12 and 10 points respectively for Florida State.

Megan Gustafson led Iowa offensively with a phenomenal night from the field. She scored 34 points on 15 of 18 shooting, and added 9 rebounds. Alexis Sevillian added 14 points and three 3s. She continues to be a big offensive spark when the Hawkeyes need it. Tania Davis also added 14, though six of those came with less than 20 seconds remaining. Kathleen Doyle and Chase Coley were Iowa’s other double digit scorers with 13 and 10 respectively.

Iowa shot a remarkable 61% from the field and 93% from the free throw line in the game. That’s a testament not only to the players, but also to coach Bluder’s offensive game plan. The Hawkeyes had assists on 28 of their 36 field goals, too. Full stats are here.

Thoughts

Iowa will be kicking themselves for letting a double-digit lead get away in the last eight minutes. The biggest problem was turnovers, as Iowa started trying to force things to Gustafson and the result was several bad passes that were easily intercepted. The turnovers led to easy buckets from Florida State and prevented Iowa from even having a chance to stop the bleeding.

Aside from turnovers—Iowa had 21 to Florida State’s 7—the biggest difference in the Florida State victory was rebounding. The Seminoles dominated Iowa on the offensive glass 19-5. While Iowa’s low offensive rebounding numbers are expected because of their hot shooting, allowing 19 to Florida State was what kept them in the game.

Coach Bluder’s decision to have Meyer miss the free throw intentionally down two with eight seconds left is tough. A coach in that scenario has two options: 1) Intentionally miss the free throw and hope for an offensive rebound that is low percentage, and 2) Try to make the free throw, foul the other team, then hurry down court to get a shot at the tie or possibly the win if the other team misses a free throw. Scenario 1 is harder to execute, but gives your team the best shot to tie or win if successful. Scenario 2 runs the risk of a team fouling you again while you’re down 3.

Ultimately Coach Bluder chose option one, Iowa didn’t get the rebound, and Florida State made both free throws. Tania Davis then showed how option two might work, as she made a 3-pointer in the waning seconds. Personally I would have chosen option two given how well Florida State rebounds, but there really doesn’t seem to be a right answer, as each team and game are different.

Finally, the crowd seemed excellent on television. They were loud and into the game right from the beginning. If Iowa fans continue to show up like that all season, Carver will be a tough place for any opponent to play.

Next Up

Iowa returns to action at home against Samford on Sunday at 2 pm. Though this loss was tough, the Hawks need to rebound and not let a tough loss spiral. 

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