GREENSBORO, N.C. (AP) — Arizona State lost Promise Amukamara to fouls, and then her younger sister lost the ball.
It added up to the Sun Devils losing to Florida State 66-65 on Friday night in the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament.
Katie Hempen had 22 points for the third-seeded Sun Devils (29-6), who had a chance to win it at the buzzer after Florida State’s Emiah Bingley missed the front end of a one-and-one with 5.2 seconds remaining.
Hempen inbounded to Peace Amukamara, who hurriedly dribbled downcourt but slowed up to look at the clock. That gave the Seminoles’ Maegan Conwright just enough time to poke it away. Adut Bulgak snatched it as the horn sounded.
“She went with it aggressively, which is also part of what we would like her to do,” coach Charlie Turner Thorne said. “Probably don’t want to (slow down) in that situation. Probably just keep going and get the shot to the rim.”
Leticia Romero scored a career-high 21 points, Bulgak had 15 points and Conwright added 11 to send the second-seeded Seminoles (32-4) to the Greensboro Regional final.
They will play top-seeded South Carolina (33-2) Sunday with their first Final Four berth on the line.
“We are trying to learn how to get through winning games, and we want to learn how to win championships,” coach Sue Semrau said.
Sophie Brunner finished with 11 points while Promise Amukamara — the team’s lone senior and best lockdown defender — had 10 before fouling out with 2:11 to play.
“The fact that our one senior wasn’t in the game down the stretch really hurt us,” Turner Thorne said.
The Sun Devils had 23 turnovers — one shy of a season high — yet hit 18 of 22 free throws — including 11 of their first 12 in the second half while they erased an 11-point deficit.
“If we hung around on the boards, we’d be OK,” Turner Thorne said, “but we never anticipated the turnovers.”
Still, they pulled within one possession three times in the final 4 minutes — with Romero responding with a big bucket each time.
“At the end of the game, you just don’t think,” Romero said. “You just want to help your team to win the game. … All those games that we have had, it has always been somebody different. Today was me shooting the last shots. I’m sure (Sunday) we are going to have a lot more weapons. … Having a team like this, you just play, and it’s just easy.”
Hempen’s third 3-pointer pulled Arizona State to 64-62 with 1:22 to play, and the Sun Devils had the ball after Conwright missed a layup with about a minute to go.
“I thought (Hempen) absolutely put us in a position to win the game, like she does, like she has on many occasions this year,” Turner Thorne said. “We just need a better end-of-the-game defense.”
Hempen failed to draw iron with a go-ahead 3 with about 40 seconds remaining and Romero knocked down a short jumper with 20.6 seconds left to make it 66-62.
The Sun Devils seemed disoriented on their next trip, running much of the clock before Elisha Davis made it a one-point game with a 3 with 6.5 seconds left.
But the Seminoles got the last defensive stop they needed to sew up their first Elite Eight appearance since 2010.
Florida State held a 30-26 rebounding advantage — the key stat prized by both teams. The only team to outrebound the Seminoles this season was Notre Dame in the Atlantic Coast Conference championship game. Arizona State was outrebounded for just the 11th time all season.
Arizona State: Hempen was fouled while shooting 3s three times and was 9 of 9 from the free-throw line in those situations. The last of those tied it at 44-all with 11:45 left.
Florida State: The Seminoles and top overall seed Connecticut are the only teams left in the tournament who have five players averaging double figures.
Arizona State: Season over.
Florida State: Plays top-seeded South Carolina on Sunday in the Greensboro Regional final.
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