TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (Seminoles.com) — A dominant first half from redshirt junior Bianca Jackson helped pave the way for the Florida State women’s basketball team (7-5, 6-5) to secure a 67-52 win against Syracuse (11-5, 8-5) in their first game back at the Donald L. Tucker Center since Jan. 21.
“I could not be more excited and proud of how we responded tonight,” interim head coach Brooke Wyckoff said. “Our girls stepped up to the challenge tonight against a really good Syracuse team. We had some players step up and they did it together as a team.”
This is the Noles’ first of four straight home games after playing four straight games on the road. The Seminoles win tonight also breaks a three-game skid against the Orange that dates back to Jan. 19, 2017.
Jackson was the star player in this matchup, leading the team with 18 points on 6-12 shooting from the field, along with five assists. This was Jackson’s third straight game leading the team in scoring and her ninth game overall in double figures this season.
“We’ve been going through quite a bit of a rough patch, so for us to get back on track tonight was good for us,” Jackson said about the team’s performance tonight. “I tried to do whatever the team needed from me and I put myself in a good position to help the team out.”
Junior Morgan Jones had her third-straight double-figure game of the season, as well as her 10th double-figure game overall, with 13 points. She also brought down seven rebounds and had two assists.
Kourtney Weber recorded a career-high five steals, while also putting together eight points and four assists against the Orange. This was the most steals in a game for Weber since having three against Clemson earlier this season.
Sophomore River Baldwin led the team in rebounds with eight and Junior Valencia Myers was not too far behind with seven rebounds of her own. Both Baldwin and Myers combined for 10 points.
The Noles shot 58% from behind the three-point line and 44% from the field while holding Syracuse to 17% from three-point range and 30% from the field. FSU also outrebounded the Orange, 39-33, and outscored them in the paint, 30-22.
“Defensive rebounding was something that we needed to improve on and be able to do in these ACC games and we did it tonight,” Wyckoff added. “Our rotations were great, our physicality was great, we had our hands up on the ball, and then we were able to finish the play with rebounding. It’s fun to see that improvement.”
The Seminoles started the night slow, down 9-2, with their only bucket coming from a layup by Jones. Three straight three-pointers by FSU, including back-to-back threes from Jackson, helped put an 11-1 run together to end the first period with the Noles up by three.
FSU continued their hot scoring run, putting up 11 straight points in the second quarter, which included redshirt senior Tiana England’s first bucket as a Nole, to increase their lead by double digits. Two straight field goals at the end of the period gave the Seminoles their largest lead of the game going up, 32-18, at the half.
Coming out of the break, the Orange were able to cut into the Seminoles lead with a 14-5 run in the third quarter. Nine third-quarter points from Syracuse’s Tiana Mangakahia were able to bring down their deficit to single digits going into the final period of play.
The Noles were able to respond early in the fourth quarter with three straight field goals to bring their lead back up to 13 points. Syracuse tried to make a late run down eight, but a made three from Weber, followed by back-to-back buckets from Jones and Myers, put the game away at home for the Seminoles.