TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – It was the usual suspects leading the No. 19/20-ranked Florida State women’s basketball team to its biggest victory of the season so far.
Seniors Leonor Rodriguez (22 points), Chelsea Davis (21 points) and Alexa Deluzio (15 points) and junior Natasha Howard (17 points) all scored in double figures to lead the Seminoles to an 80-73 victory over No. 14/17 North Carolina on Sunday at the Donald L. Tucker Center.
That quartet makes up FSU’s top four scorers and each player exceeded her season average, as FSU defeated a Top 15 team for the first time since 2010.
The victory also marked the 11th 20-win season in FSU history and broke a four-game losing streak to the Tar Heels. Florida State lost at North Carolina, 72-62, earlier this season on Jan. 31.
“I’m just really proud of our kids,” Florida State head coach Sue Semrau said. “Talk about two different ball games. When we played up there I thought we came out a little shell shocked. There were a lot of kids that have never played there before. We came back in the second half, went up one, and didn’t have enough in the tank. We were the ones in foul trouble out there.
“It was good to turn the tables in that sense. We are 16-0 when four kids on my team score 10 points or more. It’s pretty impressive that these kids share the ball the way they do and play a great team game. I thought really the difference in this game was the way we defended, the headiness and the effort.”
Rodriguez became the first Seminole to scored 20 or more points in three straight games in five years – since Tanae Davis-Cain accomplished the feat in February, 2008.
Howard had her 10th double-double of the season, chipping in 10 rebounds, while Davis added her fourth 20-point game.
Deluzio moved into No. 8 all-time in FSU career scoring (1,430 points), passing Latavia Coleman (1,428).
North Carolina briefly took the lead two minutes into the second half when Xylinia McDaniel and Waltiea Rolle made back-to-back layups and Rolle’s free throw put the Tar Heels in front, 41-38 with 17:50 left in the game.
The Seminoles answered by scoring the next seven points. Rodriguez capped the 7-0 run with her third trey of the game to put FSU in front for good 45-41 with 16:11 left in the contest.
North Carolina came within a point, when McDaniel (25 points) made a free throw to make the score 47-46 with 13:25 left.
UNC didn’t score again for another three minutes as FSU built a lead of 55-48 after Howard’s putback three-point play at the 10-minute mark.
Davis had a three-point play of her own 1:30 later to put the Seminoles up 8 and Howard put the Seminoles in front 10, 60-50, on a layup with 7:39 remaining in the contest.
Davis capped a 10-1 Seminole run with a pair of free throws at 6:50 to give the Garnet and Gold its largest lead, 65-51.
North Carolina cut its deficit to 6 on Tierra Ruffin-Pratt’s free throws with two minutes left, but Howard answered with a bucket four seconds later and Cheetah Delgado made an immediate steal. Howard was fouled on the next play and split the free throws to put the Seminoles in front for good, 76-67.
Deluzio scored 10 points in the game’s first 10 minutes, rebounding from an 0-for-7 game against NC State on Thursday.
Consecutive three-pointers by Deluzio from the exact same spot on the court in the game’s seventh minute gave Florida State a 14-9 lead.
Later Rodriguez nailed a three to put FSU up 6 in the first half.
The pair of senior guards combined for 21 points and made 4-of-5 from three-point range in the first half to help stake FSU to a 37-34 halftime advantage.
“I think just as a team we wanted to come out hard,” Deluzio said. “We always talk about throwing the first punch and being aggressive. If you remember last time we were up there we came out shell shocked. I wanted to do and I know my teammates wanted to do anything to prevent that.”
Notes: The win marked Semrau’s seventh 20-win season…The Seminoles moved to 16-0 in games with four players scoring in double figures…FSU improved to 12-0 when its scored 80 or more points…The Seminoles improved to 10-1 overall on Sundays and 5-0 on Sundays at home during ACC play…Davis recorded her fourth 20-point game of the season and fifth of her career, despite starting the game 1 for 6…The last time Florida State defeated a Top 15 team was when it took down No. 13 North Carolina on Feb. 1, 2010.