Ivey Slaughter started swiping to help Florida State discover its best defense from all angles, and the third-seeded Seminoles erased a daunting deficit and ran right into the Stockton Regional final with a 66-53 win over second-seeded Oregon State on Saturday.
Slick-handed Slaughter had a career-high nine steals, a school record in the NCAA Tournament. Florida State had 16 steals total, and Slaughter also contributed 11 points and eight rebounds. Slaughter made 1 of 2 free throws with 3:41 left before Sydney Wiese missed yet another 3-point try on the other end during a tough day from deep, and Slaughter scored again to help extend her special senior season.
ACC Player of the Year Shakayla Thomas notched her third straight double-double with 12 points and 11 rebounds. The Seminoles (28-6) used an 8-0 run to put the game away and will face top-seeded South Carolina (30-4) on Monday for a Final Four berth. The Gamecocks beat No. 12 seed Quinnipiac 100-58 earlier Saturday at Stockton Arena.
Wiese, the Beavers’ leading scorer, wound up with just nine points on 3-for-14 shooting and missed all 10 of her 3-point tries in her final collegiate game. Oregon State (31-5) missed a return trip to the Final Four.
Oregon State tied it at 46 with 6:55 to play, with Gabriella Hanson’s free throws capping a 9-0 run. Then Florida State responded once more.
First, Leticia Romero led the Seminoles back into the game, and then Slaughter was key in closing it out. Romero finished with 18 points.
Florida State trailed by 17 late in the first quarter and 10 midway through the second, but then stormed back with a big run spanning halftime— getting within 35-30 at the break before opening the third with a 16-2 burst to go ahead 46-37. The Beavers ended their five-minute scoreless drought on Kolbie Orum’s basket with 6:33 to go in the third but were sloppy taking care of the ball, committing seven turnovers by the 3:27 mark of the quarter. Orum was the Beavers’ lone player to score in double figures with 12.
Wiese struggled to get clean looks and never got comfortable with her shot, while Oregon State was just 2 for 17 from long range and shot just 36.4 percent overall after a decorated senior class led the program to the past three Pac-12 regular season titles.
The Beavers were the only team in the Stockton Regional not to travel cross-country, and plenty of their fans made the easy trip down the West Coast to Northern California.
These teams just missed each other last March at the Dallas Regional, where Florida State lost to Baylor in the Sweet 16 and the Beavers beat the Bears to reach their first Final Four ever.
Florida State: The Seminoles missed their three 3-point tries in the first half and were outrebounded 24-18 before recovering to get within 42-35 on the boards. … Florida State forced 23 turnovers in all.
Oregon State: The Beavers were one of five Pac-12 teams in the Sweet 16, a record for the conference. … Hanson, Wiese and the senior class finished 114-26. … After shooting 56.3 percent in the first quarter, the Beavers were 4 of 14 (28.6 percent) in the second.
Florida State must prepare for the efficient Gamecocks, who scored 90 or more points for the third time in seven games.