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FSU women seek chance to further strengthen NCAA tourney resume

Florida State’s win over No. 3 Louisville provided a boost for the resume and momentum for the final two regular-season games. The victory would feel even better if the FSU women’s basketball team can knock off Notre Dame on the road on Thursday, defeat Wake Forest at home on Sunday or win both.

FSU is 9-6 and 8-6 in the ACC standings as the team prepares for a trip to Notre Dame (9-8, 7-6) on Thursday at 7 p.m. (ACC Network Extra). An FSU win would create some separation in the ACC standings, helping the Seminoles inch closer toward a fourth-place finish in the league and a double-bye for the league tournament.

“You love and hate it,” FSU interim head coach Brooke Wyckoff said. “I would love for it to be an easy game. But at the same time this is why we do it, to be in these situations where it’s coming down to the wire here, you got two teams battling for some territory in the ACC standings and looking to try to get into the NCAA Tournament.”

FSU moved up to a No. 9 in ESPN.com’s bracketology on the heels of the upset of Louisville.

Notre Dame is led by 6-foot-3 freshman forward Maddy Westbeld, who is averaging 15.1 points and 7.6 rebounds. The team is guided by first-year coach Niele Ivey, who made two Final Four appearances as a player and seven as an assistant coach at Notre Dame. Ivey took over when Muffet McGraw retired in April 2020.

“They have a lot of young players that are going to develop and have the potential to be elite and bring that program back to the level that it was,” Wyckoff said. “They do a lot of the same types of things that they’ve always done, which makes them very hard to guard.”

While the attention is squarely on Notre Dame, FSU has a rematch with Wake Forest (11-9, 8-8) on Sunday at the Donald L. Tucker Center to close out the regular season. Wake took a 73-59 win on Jan. 28 in Winston-Salem, N.C.

Wyckoff is pleased with the impact grad transfer point guard Tiana England has had in the last five games. While England made just a 3-pointer (shooting 1 of 7) in the win over the Cardinals, she made 5 of 6 free-throw attempts to help secure the win. England has seen increased playing time, coming off the bench for 22 minutes on Sunday.

“She does so many things for us, tangibly and intangibly,” Wyckoff said. “Hitting those free throws, having the presence and just the confidence of being a college basketball player for this long and being in some big situations already, she’s able to step up and hit those (free throws). Her ball-handling ability. But also just the fact that she can give Bianca Jackson a little bit of a mental break.”

FSU has played just 15 games as postponements and cancellations have limited the number of games played. But the Seminoles are also in position to finish well, making an impression on the NCAA Selection Committee.

“That’s really our job, to draw that out and to help them understand and see what they’re capable of on a day-to-day basis and find the ways to draw that out of our players so that they can consistently do it,” Wyckoff said. “We’re in this first part of developing this team, with all the new roles and all the new experiences and the ups and downs of a shortened season.”