GREENSBORO, N.C. (AP) — Leticia Romero hit the biggest shots for Florida State. Maegan Conwright came up with the steal the Seminoles needed.
Romero scored a career-high 21 points and Florida State held on to beat Arizona State 66-65 on Friday night in the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament.
Adut 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 — in the same arena where three weeks earlier they played in their first Atlantic Coast Conference title game.
“We are trying to learn how to get through winning games, and we want to learn how to win championships,” coach Sue Semrau said.
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 — and that gave Conwright just enough time to poke it away. Bulgak snatched it as the horn sounded.
“My team makes fun of me because I do this defensive move a lot,” Conwright said. “I know that I was recruited for defense, and defense is my strong suit. When I was looking at her, I felt like I could go get the steal, so I just did it.”
Sophie Brunner finished with 11 points while Promise Amukamara had 10 before fouling out with 2:11 to play for the Sun Devils.
They 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.
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.
“We knew it was going to be a physical game,” Semrau said. “Credit our kids for hanging in at the end.”
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 ACC 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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