TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (Seminoles.com) – Senior forward Natasha Howard posted a dominant 26-point, 10-rebound performance as the Florida State women’s basketball team cruised past in-state foe Stetson, 79-49, on Friday evening at the Donald L. Tucker Center.
Howard, who was recently named to the Naismith Trophy Watch List, poured in a career high in points mainly from getting touches deep in the low post. The Toledo, Ohio, native shot 11-of-14 from the field, with her 11 field goals tying for the most this season by an ACC player. Howard’s shots made also were her career high, marking a special performance in what was her 100th career start.
The 6-foot-3 versatile performer recorded her second double-double of the season and the 28th of her career, leaving her three shy of tying the school record of 31 by Sue Galkantas (1981-84). Howard also added four blocks and four steals in the contest, and moved up the career list for points (19th), rebounds (eighth) and steals (20th).
“We did a good job of sharing the ball tonight,” Florida State head coach Sue Semrau said following the game. “It was a game of runs again for us and we were able to take advantage of some opportunities. I thought Natasha played very well for us and finished well inside and gave us a strong presence in the low post.”
The Seminoles (5-1) have dominated all season long with points in the paint and Friday’s matchup was no different. Thanks to Howard’s plentiful amount of buckets on the inside, the ‘Noles outscored the Hatters (3-3) in the paint, 32-14. For the season, FSU has outscored its opponent on the inside, 188-112.
Redshirt sophomore guard Morgan Jones added 16 points and nine rebounds for FSU, which out-rebounded Stetson 47-25. Jones drained four 3-pointers, one shy of her career high set a few seasons ago, and added seven assists. Redshirt junior Lauren Coleman chipped in with a career-best 12 points, going 5-of-11 from the field.
Florida State shot 46.9 percent overall (30-of-64) while holding Stetson to just 32.1 percent. The ‘Noles were aided by six 3-pointers and shot 46.2 percent from beyond the arc, a season-best percentage. A season-best nine blocks were part of FSU’s staunch defensive effort, led by four apiece from Howard and freshman Kai James.
The win for FSU was significant in a few ways – the ‘Noles have won seven consecutive games against teams from the state of Florida. During that time span, FSU has defeated Miami three times, Florida twice and Stetson twice.
The ‘Noles also extended their non-conference win streak at home to 12 games. FSU has not lost to a non-ACC foe at home since losing to Nebraska, 66-63, on Nov. 27, 2011.
Holding a single-digit lead at halftime, FSU chipped away in the second half and was able to generate 15 points off turnovers. Florida State would go on small runs in the latter period, using a 9-0 run to end the game and build its largest lead at 30 points on a couple free throws by Jones.
Stetson cut its deficit to 39-33 at the start of the second half when Jama Sharp drilled a long-range shot from the wing, but FSU responded with a quick 5-0 spurt on a 3-ball from Jones and a score inside from Howard. Stetson shot better from long range than short range, while FSU made the most of its high-percentage shots in the lane.
FSU took a 39-30 lead into the locker room, trying to break free until Stetson had a late run to cut the game to single digits. Brittany Brown helped Florida State with 10 points as she looked to drive the lane often and convert on a few transition buckets. Howard was also efficient, shooting 4-of-6 and stuffing the stat sheet with eight rebounds, two blocks and two steals in 17 minutes.
The ‘Noles started off hot from the field nearly midway through the first half. Florida State held a 25-11 advantage at the 12-under media timeout after shooting 9-of-11 from the floor, highlighted by Brown’s eight points. FSU was able to convert several forced turnovers into quick points on the other end of the floor, as Cheetah Delgado already totaled four assists at the 11:54 mark.
FSU looked as if it would break away late in the first half, but Stetson held tough and trailed 37-27 with 1:40 remaining in the first half. Leading scorer Sasha Sims kept the Hatters in the game with 10 points, and finished with 16 overall
The ‘Noles get back on the road with a non-conference matchup at Miami-Ohio on Sunday, Dec. 1, at 2 p.m. Fans can listen to all the action on WNLS 1270AM as well as on Seminoles.com.
For more information on Florida State women's basketball, follow the Seminoles on Twitter at @FSU_WBasketball and like their official Facebook page (Facebook.com/FSUWomensBasketball).