COLLEGE STATION, Texas — Florida State saw the epic comeback of the Texas A&M's men over Northern Iowa on Sunday night and the Seminoles were not about to let the Aggies do the same thing to them on Monday night.
With a 21-point lead down to just 10 points with two minutes remaining Canadian Adut Bulgak implored her teammates not to let up.
"I was like: 'Yo, they're creeping up on us. Get to work," said the Edmonton native.
And they did, scoring the game's last eight points to secure a 74-56 win in the second round of the NCAA Tournament and a second straight trip to the Sweet 16.
Bulgak, a senior, scored 18 and Leticia Romero added 17 to help Florida State build a big lead early and hold on for the victory.
It puts the Seminoles in the round of 16 for fourth time overall where they'll meet Baylor on Saturday in the Dallas Regional.
Florida State (25-7) led by just three points at halftime before pulling away for a 72-55 win over Middle Tennessee State in the first round on Saturday. Things were much different on Monday when the Seminoles raced out to a 21-point lead by halftime thanks to six early 3-pointers and withstood a late run to eliminate the Aggies (22-10) on their home court.
"We knew we had to come out and be the aggressor, and I thought from the tip, we had that opportunity to be the aggressor," Florida State coach Sue Semrau said.
The Aggies trailed by 21 entering the fourth before using a 13-2 run over the first eight minutes of the quarter to get within 66-56. But Florida State shut the Aggies down after that to thwart the rally and keep the Aggies from replicating what their men did against Northern Iowa when they trailed by 12 points with 44 seconds remaining before winning in double overtime.
"If anything got hard, we came together," Florida State's Brittany Brown said. "We just got it together and played together as a team."
Courtney Walker had 18 points to lead A&M and Anriel Howard, who set an NCAA Tournament record with 27 rebounds in the first-round game, had eight points with 13 rebounds. The Aggies were without starter Courtney Williams and Shlonte Allen for the second straight game after the pair were suspended for a violation of team rules on Saturday.
"We just got to win the loose balls, finish the layups," Walker said. "That's the thing that would have kept us in the game ... missing (Williams), we need those shots even more. That's just on us to finish."
The Seminoles jumped out to a 14-6 lead, powered by five early points by Romero. They were up by nine early in the second quarter before scoring the next seven points, with the first five from Bulgak, to make it 34-18 about seven minutes before halftime.
Walker made a layup after that and Texas A&M had several defensive stops, but the Aggies missed their next five shots, including three layups to remain in a big hole.
"We cannot just be a jump shot team," Texas A&M coach Gary Blair said. "When we did get it inside, we got a little scared. We saw size coming, and we bricked a few layups."
They finally got going soon after that, scoring four points in a row to get within 36-24.
But Bulgak, who had 13 rebounds, stopped A&M's run by scoring the first five points of an 11-2 spurt that extended the lead to 47-26 at halftime. Ivey Slaughter had a 3-point play with 12 seconds left in the second half and Brown capped the first-half scoring with a 3-pointer with one second remaining.
Texas A&M opened the second half with a 7-2 run, with five points from Chelsea Jennings, to cut the lead to 49-33. But Florida State used a 6-2 spurt after that to push it back to 20 points.
Florida State: All of the school's Sweet 16 appearances have been under Semrau. ... Brown added 16 points. ... Florida State made all of its six 3-pointers in the first half.
Texas A&M: Walker became the school's all-time leading scorer with 1,989 career points. ... Texas A&M falls to 6-4 in the second round of the tournament. ... Jennings finished with 15 points. ... Jordan Jones had nine assists.
Semrau was moved to see former Seminole Travis Johnson, who spent six seasons in the NFL, in the crowd supporting her team.
"He brought his young daughter and lives in Houston and drove up," Semrau said. "That's what it's all about. It's family. It's support."
Florida State: Faces Baylor on Saturday in the Dallas Regional.
Texas A&M: Season over.
Kristie Rieken, The Associated Press