GREENSBORO, N.C. (AP) — For years, Florida State and Arizona State have been fighting their way up the ladder in women’s basketball.
One is about to move a step closer to its first Final Four.
The second-seeded Seminoles (31-4) face the third-seeded Sun Devils (29-5) on Friday night in a Greensboro Region semifinal.
Neither program has many extended NCAA Tournament stays to its credit: Florida State is in the Sweet 16 for just the third time while this is the Sun Devils’ sixth appearance in the regional semifinals.
The teams have combined for three Elite Eight appearances — Arizona State in 2007 and ’09, and Florida State in 2010.
“A little different in style,” Arizona State coach Charli Turner Thorne said Thursday. “But very similar in the results.”
Especially on defense.
Florida State’s last nine opponents have combined to shoot just 33 percent — 28 percent from 3-point range. Arizona State has allowed 70 or more points just twice since Feb. 1.
“It’s going to be hard to score for both teams,” Florida State coach Sue Semrau said. “Just the pride that both teams take in their defense.”
The Seminoles have yet to really be tested in the NCAA Tournament while Arizona State needed an unlikely rally against 11th-seeded Arkansas-Little Rock just to make it this far.
The Sun Devils needed one of the biggest comebacks in program history to rally from 16 points down — and 13 with nine minutes left — to beat UALR in the second round.
Florida State has beaten its two opponents, Alabama State and Florida Gulf Coast, by 42 and 18 points.
“I saw that mentality that we’re talking about — and that we think we have too,” Florida State guard Leticia Romero said. “No matter what happens, no matter what the game is at that point, we want it so bad, we’re going to work for it. … They had the same (attitude).”
Some things to know about the Arizona State-Florida State game:
GREENSBORO MEMORIES: The Greensboro Coliseum was the site of some huge wins for both programs: Florida State reached its first Atlantic Coast Conference title game here three weeks ago, losing to top-seeded Notre Dame in the final. “Just the comfort level that we’ll have being in Greensboro, playing three games in the last month on this floor is truly something special as my team comes back,” Semrau said. Arizona State’s only Elite Eight berth came here in 2007 when Turner Thorne guided the Sun Devils past Bowling Green in a semifinal, only to lose the final to a Rutgers team that knocked off No. 1 overall seed Duke.
BATTLE OF THE BOARDS: Both teams place high importance on winning the rebounding battle. Florida State was the only Division I team to outrebound each of its opponents during the regular season — the only team to best them on the boards was Notre Dame in the ACC title game and Semrau says that’s “the best thing that we do.” Meanwhile, the Sun Devils have outrebounded 24 of 34 opponents. “They’re relentless and they use all their athleticism,” Turner Thorne said of the Seminoles. “They work.”
SEMINOLE SCORERS: Florida State has five players averaging double figures — among the 16 teams still playing, only top overall seed Connecticut can also make that claim. Nobody averages more than the 12.3 points scored by center Adut Bulgak, while Shakayla Thomas — the ACC’s sixth man of the year who Turner Thorne calls “Rodman” because of her rebounding ferocity — adds 10.2 points off the bench for the balanced Seminoles. “For us,” Semrau said, “it’s somebody different every night.”
STEADY CLIMBS: Neither team showed up in the AP Top 25 until midway through the season, with the Sun Devils debuting on Dec. 22 and the Seminoles showing up five weeks later. Neither team ever left. Both of them earned the No. 2 seeds in their respective conference tournaments, and Florida State wound up at No. 7 in the final AP poll with Arizona State at No. 9.
Follow Joedy McCreary on Twitter at http://twitter.com/joedyap
Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.