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Seminoles wary of ASU’s suffocating defense

DULUTH, Ga. – Florida State coach Sue Semrau doesn’t want her perimeter shooters feeling uptight heading into their second-round matchup Monday with Arizona State.

Hoping to lead the Seminoles into the Sweet 16 for the second time in three years, Semrau chose to keep Arizona State’s suffocating defense off her players’ minds.

“To be honest, we didn’t know they were that good,” Florida State senior guard Mara Freshour said Sunday. “I’ve never really seen them play that much. We saw them on film yesterday and again today. I didn’t know they defended the 3 well, and I probably would’ve been better off not knowing that.”

One reason the 12th-ranked Seminoles (26-7) earned a No. 3 seed in the Trenton Regional was their accurate shooting beyond the arc. Florida State ranks seventh nationally in 3-point percentage, and three starters (Courtney Ward, Freshour and Tanae Davis-Cain) are among the Atlantic Coast Conference’s top 10.

Facing No. 19 Arizona State (24-8), which is seeded sixth, the Seminoles will face one of the nation’s best perimeter defenses. Opponents of the Sun Devils took just 312 shots beyond the arc this season, second-fewest in the nation, through March 15.

Two-time Pac-10 defensive player of the year Briann January has worked even harder to limit jump-shot attempts after Arizona State lost point guard Dymond Simon to a season-ending knee injury two weeks ago.

“We just want to be really smart on (our) shot selections because (missing) early shots can lead to them having transition opportunities,” January said. “I think if we just play our defense and our style and containing ball pressure – taking away post entries and doing what we do – it will lead to points.”

The Sun Devils, who will attempt to advance to the Sweet 16 for the third time in five years, are coming off a 58-47 first-round victory in which they held Georgia to its lowest total in the Bulldogs’ 74-game NCAA tournament history.

No. 1 UConn rolls

STORRS, Conn. – Tina Charles scored 32 points and Renee Montgomery added 19 – all in the first half – to help top-seed Connecticut rout No. 16 seed Vermont 104-65 on Sunday in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament.

The Huskies (34-0) entered the NCAAs unbeaten for the fourth time in school history. UConn went on to win the national championship in 1995 and 2002. In 1996-97, the Huskies lost to Tennessee in the regional final.

UConn, which is seeking its sixth national title, will face Florida in the second round Tuesday night.

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