No. 8 Florida State women's hoops suffers blowout home loss to No. 5 Notre Dame

Florida State longtime women’s basketball coach Sue Semrau had a simple request for Seminoles fans.

“Can I count on you to be there?” she asked endearingly, hoping for a raucous crowd ahead of Sunday’s top-10 matchup.

The fans delivered. But the Seminoles could not do the same.

No. 8 FSU dug itself in a staggering hole, trailing by as many as 23 points in the first half and 34 late in the fourth quarter, and ultimately fell 100-69 to No. 5 Notre Dame in front of a record announced crowd of 9,498 at the Donald L. Tucker Center Sunday afternoon.

“It was just unbelievable support from Tallahassee — it meant so much to me,” Semrau said.

“I was really without words before the game, and I’m really disappointed we didn’t give them a show. … That’s not the team we’ve been. Hopefully, we’ll be more entertaining next time.”

Semrau, one of FSU’s longest tenured coaches in her 21st season, does not often advocate for fans to attend her games, but she took to social media urging fans to pack the house and make a difference.

The Seminoles (18-3, 6-2 ACC) were in pursuit of their second consecutive win over a top-5 opponent after a win at Louisville last Sunday. And they were in search for their first win over the Irish (20-2, 8-1), who improved to 7-0 in the all-time series between both teams.

But outside sudden spurts of offense from FSU, the Irish kept the Seminoles and their spirited crowd subdued in only the third matchup between top-10 opponents in Tallahassee.

“They weren’t really a factor because we were able to give them a knockout punch early,” Notre Dame coach Muffet McGraw said of the crowd.

The Irish led 29-14 after the first quarter and cruised to a victory.

FSU’s leading scorer Shakayla Thomas (18.5 points per contest) had one of the worst games of her four-year career, missing her first 11 shots and finishing with 8 points on 3 of 18 shooting.

Senior transfer guard Imani Wright led the team with 23 points, with center Chatrice White adding 14 points and nine rebounds for the Seminoles, who shot 33 percent for the game and scored just 29 points in the first half.

“We let our offense just mess with us defensively,” Semrau said.

Notre Dame dominated with 66 points in the paint and saw six players score in double figures. Kathryn Westbeld had 21 points and 12 rebounds, Jessica Shepard and Arike Ogunbowale each scored 19 points and Jackie Young added 16 points for the Irish.

With the defeat, FSU falls behind Notre Dame, Virginia and Louisville — each atop the ACC with 8-1 records — in the conference standings.

The Seminoles could also see their spot in the top 25 rankings affected this week, but they will take it all in stride.

FSU has played in the NCAA Tournament in 13 of Semrau’s 21 years, including 12 of the past 13 seasons.

And the Seminoles hope to build on one of their deepest NCAA Tournament runs to date after reaching the Elite Eight for the second time in three years last season.

Semrau and her players will likely look at this point in its season as a driving force for another NCAA Tournament run.

“This team, they felt the embarrassment of that. That’s not who we’ve been,” Semrau said of the loss to the Irish.

“Again, credit Notre Dame for putting us in that situation. But now we can go back and get some work done. It’ll be fun to see how we respond.”

Email Safid Deen at sdeen@orlandosentinel.com. Follow him on Twitter at @osfsu or @Safid_Deen and like our Florida State Facebook page for the latest updates on the Seminoles.

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