FSU's defense on Fowles, guard play keys to win
The Seminoles are flying high following a stunning upset of Stanford on the Cardinal's home court Monday night.
Sue Semrau has her team in the Sweet 16 for the first time in school history -- the Seminoles face LSU in a Fresno Regional semifinal at 11:30 p.m. ET Sunday (ESPN2) -- and it's a team unaffected by its surroundings after playing in the ACC.
The Stanford upset was FSU's first win over a ranked opponent this season. The Seminoles were simply the more athletic team and they played a physical game. They overcame foul trouble in the first half and got a big boost from their bench. Led by backup point guard Shante Williams, the Seminoles' supporting cast provided 22 bench points.
LSU once again called on its defensive intensity to overcome an 11-point second-half deficit in a win over West Virginia in the second round. The Lady Tigers have the best scoring defense (48.9 ppg) and the best field-goal percentage defense (32.6) in the nation.
No news has been good news for LSU on the Pokey Chatman front during the week. The Lady Tigers seem focused on the job at hand, which is an attempt to return to the Final Four for the fourth year in a row and win the program's first national title. Only Connecticut, Tennessee and Louisiana Tech have been to four consecutive Final Fours.
|SWEET 16 SCHEDULE|
(7) Bowling Green vs. (3) ASU
noon ET, ESPN
(4) Rutgers vs. (1)Duke
(4) NC State vs. (1) UConn
(10) Florida State vs. (3) LSU
(7) Ole Miss vs. (3) Oklahoma
(3) Georgia vs. (2) Purdue
(5) Geo. Washington vs. (1) UNC
Depth seems to be an advantage for Florida State. Playing time has been at a premium for the LSU starting five down the stretch. The bench only provided 15 minutes in the WVU win.
LSU All-American candidate Sylvia Fowles must avoid foul trouble in her low-block battle with the Noles. She is the first player in SEC history to get a double-double in every league contest this season. FSU will counter with starter Britany Miller, who scored 20 points in the first-round win over Old Dominion, and quality depth in Jacinta Monroe and Nikki Anthony.
LSU point guard Erica White has been looking to score more recently. She is at her best in transition and taking the ball to the basket. White will look to apply pressure on FSU point guard Mara Freshour, a sophomore who has more turnovers than assists against quick guards like Duke's Lindsey Harding, UNC's Ivory Latta and Georgia Tech's Jaqua Williams. FSU might play Shante Williams, a junior, more after her 16-point outburst against Stanford.
FSU will try to break down the LSU defenders off the dribble with the likes of Alicia Gladden, Tanae Davis-Cain and Alysha Harvin. They displayed one-on-one capabilities against Stanford at key moments in the second half Monday. LSU has developed RaShonta LeBlanc as their perimeter stopper this year.
Rebounding will again be a critical statistic. FSU likes to rebound and run, allowing Gladden & Co. to score in transition. LSU has won several games this year without even scoring in the 60s and the Lady Tigers like to lock teams down by controlling the glass, thereby limiting easier baskets in transition and with second-chance points.Beth Mowins is a regular contributor to ESPN.com's women's basketball coverage.