Top-seeded Lady Bears set for second-round game
The journey to a second-consecutive National Championship continues for the No. 1 Lady Bears, who advanced to the second round of the NCAA Tournament to play No. 8 Florida State at 8:30 p.m. today at the Ferrell Center.
“They’re talented. We’re talented,” head coach Kim Mulkey said. “We’re fortunate to play in an area that appreciates the product on the floor. But playing at home doesn’t win games for us. Those kids have to go in, night in and night out.”
The Florida State Seminoles are 4-5 against ranked opponents this season, but they have not defeated a top five team.
Despite its seeding, Florida State does pose a threat offensively, ranking fifth in the nation in field goal percentage at 45.9. The Seminoles are also seventh in the nation in scoring at 76.2 points per game.
“Florida State is a team full of athletes,” junior guard Odyssey Sims said. “They have great shooters, a point guard who can get by you on the dribble and a four and a five who can rebound very well. We are going to have to keep them off the boards and keep them out of the paint.”
The Seminoles commit 16.4 turnovers per game, but their defense averages 9.8 steals per game. The team also averages 38.9 rebounds, but its opponents average 38.7 on the season.
Leonor Rodriguez leads the Seminoles in scoring, averaging 15 points per game while adding 3.7 rebounds and 3.7 assists. Chelsea Davis leads the team in field-goal percentage at 51.9 and is the third-leading scorer, averaging 13 points per game. Davis also adds 5.4 rebounds and 3.2 assists. Natasha Howard leads the team in rebounds at 7.6 per game and averages 12.8 points per game.
Baylor is second in the nation in scoring offense, averaging 81 points per game. The Lady Bears are also first in the nation in field-goal percentage, making 51.5 percent of their shots.
Baylor is also ranked first in assist-to-turnover ratio at 1.61.
Sims is second in the nation in assist-to-turnover ratio at 2.66. Sims had five steals without committing a single turnover against Prairie View A&M on Sunday.
“We play a kid at Duke that was Odyssey’s teammate, Alexis Jones,” Florida State head coach Sue Semrau said. “They remind me so much of each other. It’s uncanny how similar the two of them are. I think Odyssey’s a little bit more powerful, and obviously more experienced and more savvy.”
Senior center Brittney Griner leads the team in scoring and rebounds with 23.6 points and nine rebounds per game. Griner is third in the nation in points per game and second in the nation in blocked shots, averaging 4.15 per game.
Senior guards Jordan Madden and Kimetria Hayden are having their best year offensively, averaging 7.5 and 7.4 points per game respectively.
Senior forward Destiny Williams has been dependable off the bench, averaging 8.5 points and 6.8 rebounds per contest.
However, Baylor’s offense isn’t the only part of the court that has been successful. Baylor holds its opponents to 32.8 percent shooting and 53.9 points per game. Baylor’s defense is the reason it has a +27.1 scoring margin.
“I think we obviously have to make shots and just continue playing team basketball,” Seminole senior guard Alexa Deluzio said. “I’m not a part of the Baylor team, but I know on our team we talk about our team chemistry and I think that’s very powerful. We want to just to go out and have fun and compete. It’s March Madness, anything can happen, and we’re prepared for that.”
However, Baylor will be prepared to keep its journey going.