By The Associated Press
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Florida State coach Sue Semrau loves Ohio, and with good reason. She’s gotten some of her best players out of the Buckeye state over the past dozen years.
The latest, Cierra Bravard, is a big reason the No. 3 seed Seminoles (28-5) are headed to Dayton on Sunday for the round of 16 in the NCAA women’s tournament. Florida State plays Mississippi State, a No. 7 seed that advanced with an 87-67 upset win over a No. 2 Seed, Ohio State.
In Florida State’s 66-65 overtime win over St. John’s on Monday, Bravard delivered three clutch baskets. A pair of unanswered layups by the sturdy sophomore from Sandusky gave the Seminoles a 55-53 lead with just over six minutes left while her jumper two minutes into the overtime gave Florida State a 64-62 lead.
“She is a scoring presence down low for us and has become a good defensive rebounder,” Semrau said. “And she has a knack on the offensive boards on the weak side. Those things really complement what we get from our other players on the interior.”
At 6-foot-4, Bravard sometimes spells Florida State’s 6-5 shot-blocking specialist Jacinta Monroe or joins her in a double-post alignment.
“My role kind of changes every game,” Bravard said. “If we’re struggling from the perimeter they might need me to do a little more damage on the inside and if we’re playing against a better team that has a better post presence, my defense might be what they need.”
In two seasons as a part-time starter, Bravard has averaged 8.4 points and 4.7 rebounds and nearly one blocked shot a game as the Seminoles (28-5) have shared successive ACC regular season titles. Florida State is 54-13 in Bravard’s two years, with two of the losses coming against Connecticut.
A sociology major, Bravard chose Florida State largely on an instinct that it was where she needed to be.
“I felt like I would get more than just being a basketball player being here,” she said. “I’m far away from home and really far away from my family. This is my family now.”
But Bravard is excited about the chance to play closer to her hometown this weekend so her mother, sisters and high school friends and teammates can watch her and the Seminoles try and advance deeper into the NCAA tournament.
Florida State at Dayton, Ohio. 1:30 p.m. ESPN.