CANCUN, Mexico — Mexican-born sophomore forward Mariana Valenzuela totaled a career-high 19 points off the bench to spark Florida State Women’s Basketball to an 88-57 win over Harvard in its final game of the Cancun Challenge on Saturday at the Hard Rock Hotel Riviera Maya.
The Seminoles (7-1) finish the tournament 2-1 with wins over Purdue (76-75) and Harvard and a close loss to Oklahoma State (79-77).
Valenzuela played a huge role in Florida State’s breakaway third quarter that ignited Saturday’s win. The Mazatlán, Mexico native delivered 11 of her 19 points in the third as FSU out-scored the Crimson 27-13 to create the cushion it needed. The 14-0 run that helped to seal the game was highlighted by Valenzuela’s back-to-back 3-point field goals that helped FSU run out to a 70-42 advantage.
Valenzuela finished 7-of-10 from the floor and 4-of-5 from 3-point range with plenty of friends and family watching in the stands.
Her 3-point field goal with 2:04 left in the third that gave FSU a 65-42 lead came off graduate guard Jazmine Massengill’s 400th career assist. While Massengill’s career totals do not count in the FSU record books, by comparison’s sake the Seminoles have just four players whom have crossed the 400-career assist line.
Freshman guard Ta’Niya Latson continued to dominate, scoring 20 points on 6-of-11 shooting with four assists. Over her three games played at the Cancun Challenge, Latson averaged 20.3 points, 5.0 rebounds, shot 48.9 percent (23-of-47) from the floor and 44.4 percent (4-of-9) from 3-point range.
Sophomore forward Makayla Timpson picked up her second straight double-double with 15 points and a career-high tying 14 rebounds. Timpson averaged 14.7 points, 11.7 rebounds and 2.3 blocked shots at the Cancun Challenge.
Senior guard Sara Bejedi added 13 points and four assists with no turnovers. As a team the Seminoles generated 13 assists and turned the ball over just 11 times.
FSU shot 49.3 percent (33-of-67) from the floor and drained nine 3-point field goals while shooting 47.4 percent from deep. Harvard was held to just 29.7 percent shooting and was led by Harmoni Turner’s 23 points.
The Seminoles made it a point of emphasis to create easy chances in the paint, outscoring Harvard 44-20 inside. The bench continued to shine as well, scoring 30 points to Harvard’s 11.
Florida State returns to action with the ACC-Big Ten Challenge on Thursday, Dec. 1, at 7:30 p.m. at Wisconsin in the Kohl Center.