TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Facing one of the stingiest defensive units in the country, the No. 9/8 Florida State Women’s Basketball team was able to execute its game plan in the interior en route to an 80-60 victory against rival Miami on Sunday afternoon at the Donald L. Tucker Center.
The Seminoles (22-2, 9-1) extended their win streak to nine games, with all nine wins coming against the conference to mark their longest ever against ACC competition. FSU became the second team to post 80+ points against the Hurricanes (16-7, 5-4) this season, as Miami sported the conference’s best scoring defense coming into the game allowing just 56.4 points per game.
“It’s always important for us in an in-state rivalry to come away with a win,” FSU head coach Sue Semrau said. “It was a battle out there and especially in the first half when they cut it to a three-point game. I loved the response and they came out at halftime and Adut was special on the boards tonight. When we can have 24 second-chance points, that’s hard to guard.”
One of Florida State’s keys to victory was its ability to crank up the possession total, as FSU ended the game with 80 possessions while Miami was also forced into a faster tempo. The Seminoles were able to wear down their rivals in the interior, as junior center Adut Bulgak finished with 19 points and 17 rebounds along with four enormous blocked shots. It was Bulgak’s 12th double-double, tying for the second-most in a season at FSU.
Bulgak went 6-of-6 from the free throw line and grabbed eight offensive boards. She continues to lead the ACC in rebounds per game in conference play, averaging 11.9 boards. In five of her eight games played against ACC opponents, the Edmonton, Canada, native has ripped down double-digit boards.
Bulgak’s big game elevated the Seminoles in several important areas: FSU out-rebounded Miami 53-30, the fifth time this season the Noles have grabbed 50+ boards. FSU also recorded 24 offensive boards, its most in conference play, won the points in the paint battle 40-26 and had 24 second-chance points compared to Miami’s six.
FSU had four players in double figures, including redshirt senior Maegan Conwright (13 points), sophomore guard Leticia Romero (12 points) and freshman forward Shakayla Thomas (12 points). Romero had another solid all-around performance, shooting 5-of-6 from the floor, grabbing five rebounds and dishing out five assists. The Las Palmas, Spain, native did record six turnovers.
Conwright recorded a career-high two blocked shots and defended Miami’s top player – Adrienne Motley – very well. Motley, who posted 32 points in Notre Dame’s lone loss of the season, was held to 5-of-17 shooting and totaled 14 points with four assists.
For the sixth time in 10 ACC games, all of FSU’s active players earned time on the court. The Noles outscored Miami off the bench, 24-8, and got quality minutes from sophomore Emiah Bingley (five points, two assists) and redshirt junior guard Shakena Richardson (two points, three assists, no turnovers in 10 minutes).
The Noles continue to dominate the state. FSU is now 16-1 against Sunshine State opponents since the start of the 2012-13 season. Its 22 wins this year surpass last year’s 21-12 overall record, and it improves to 12-0 at home this season with two regular-season games left at the Donald L. Tucker Center vs. Clemson (Paint it Pink Day on Feb. 19) and NC State (Senior Night, Feb. 26).
Miami gave FSU all it could handle through the early portion of the second half, as a layup by Erykah Davenport cut the Seminole lead to just 40-39 with 14:35 left in the game. But over the next 3:05 FSU went on a 16-2 run as Conwright gave FSU a layup to stop a five-minute scoring drought and a huge 3-pointer. Bulgak punctuated the run with a momentum-swinging trey to give the Noles a 56-41 lead.
The Hurricanes were never able to get within single digits again as they were whistled for 18 fouls in the second half. FSU continued to attack the basket and force the issue, taking a 66-47 lead with 6:57 left off a nice jumper from Richardson. A layup by Conwright with 2:05 remaining put the FSU lead back at 19 points again, and Romero’s runner with 17 seconds left created the game’s final score.
This week's schedule is just as challenging. They face a key stretch this week when they battle No. 13/11 North Carolina in Chapel Hill on Thursday night at 7 p.m. on the league’s ACC Regional Sports Networks. FSU then faces Virginia in Charlottesville on Sunday, Feb. 15, at 1 p.m. also on the league’s regional sports networks.