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ASU tops Florida State in NCAA second round

March 23, 2009

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Fouls and an injury held back Briann January for most of the game, but not when Arizona State needed the senior the most.

January's return from an ankle injury gave the Sun Devils a spark, and Arizona State beat Florida State 63-58 on Monday night to advance to the NCAA regional semifinals.

Danielle Orsillo's 3-pointer with 32 seconds remaining gave the Sun Devils a 57-54 lead.

Following Orsillo's 3, Mara Freshour missed a 3-point attempt for third-seeded Florida State with 22 seconds remaining. January, Kate Engelbrecht and Orsillo each added two free throws for the Sun Devils in the final 20 seconds to protect the lead.

Sixth-seeded Arizona State (25-8) will play the winner of Tuesday's Texas A&M-Minnesota game on Sunday in Trenton, N.J.

Arizona State will be playing to advance to the regional final for the second time in three years under coach Charli Turner Thorne, after reaching its first Elite Eight in 2007.

"I've had some great teams and great players over the years," said Turner Thorne after her 250th win in her 13th season at the school. "All made me proud but I don't think I've ever been more proud than I am tonight."

Sybil Dosty had 13 points and nine rebounds and Engelbrecht had 12 points for the Sun Devils.

Freshour led Florida State (26-8) with 15 points. Courtney Ward added 12 points.

"It was a disappointing end to a great year," said Florida State coach Sue Semrau. "It came down to needing a defensive stop that we didn't get. Credit Arizona State for getting some 3s to get back in the game."

Florida State took the lead with a 10-0 run late in the first half and pulled away again with eight straight points to lead 40-31 midway through the second half.

January, the two-time Pac-10 defensive player of the year, played only 8 minutes in the first half while picking up three fouls. The senior guard hit a 3-pointer 5 minutes into the second half but left shortly after colliding with Tanae Davis-Cain with 9:40 remaining.

January, who was limping after falling to the floor, had her right ankle taped and returned with 6:44 remaining and Florida State leading 44-39.

January's return seemed to spark the Sun Devils. Gabby Fage made two 3-pointers in a span of 40 seconds and January added another 3 with 5:03 remaining to tie the score at 48. January picked up her fourth foul about 15 seconds after her 3 but left the game for only about a minute.

Ward's 3-pointer for Florida State with 1:40 left tied the game at 54-54. After misses by January and Jacinta Monroe, Turner Thorne called a timeout with 45 seconds remaining to set up Orsillo's go-ahead 3-pointer.

Orsillo said a screen by 6-foot-3 Dosty set up the "pretty cool" shot.

"I was coming off a double screen, but I was wide open," Orsillo said. "I had a bad shooting game up until then. I told myself I had to make it."

Added Orsillo: "We showed a little poise to go out there and keep fighting."

Orsillo pumped her fists after making the shot.

"I'm Italian, so I tend to show a lot of passion," she said.

January had 11 points, six assists and two steals in only 23 minutes, providing leadership that was especially important following the loss of point guard Dymond Simon to a knee injury on the final regular-season game.

"Charli said the team that comes together and pulls together is going to win," January said. "You know, that just showed how tough our team is. We have six seniors on the team, and nobody wanted to let it end."

January had ice on the ankle as she savored the win in the physical game.

"I was just staying with my teammates mentally because none of wanted it to end," January said.

With January on the bench most of the first half, Florida State led 24-20 at halftime despite going more than 8 minutes without scoring.

"She's really our only true ball-handler, and they knew we needed her in the game," Turner Thorne said of the way Florida State attacked January.

"I think they went after her, and to me they were very physical with her, but we were just playing," Turner Thorne said. "It just happened, but you really have to try hard to keep her out of the game if she's hurt."

Turner Thorne said January "has some quick healing to do" before the regional semifinals.