TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (seminoles.com) – Behind senior forward Natasha Howard’s 35 points and 14 rebounds, the Florida State women’s basketball team was able to race past Faulkner University, 96-58, on Sunday afternoon in an exhibition at the Donald L. Tucker Center.
Howard, a Toledo, Ohio, native, was able to run the floor effectively all afternoon and show off her athleticism that makes her an All-America contender entering her senior season. Whether it was on transition feeds or put-backs off missed shots, Howard was dominant inside the paint and sparked a Florida State squad that scored 33 second-chance points.
The Senior CLASS Award candidate wound up going 12-for-19 from the field while adding three blocks, one assist and one steal.
“I think with it being the first time out for so many of our players, I was expecting them to have some nerves and I thought they really settled in well, especially in the second half,” head coach Sue Semrau said. “Our defensive effort was much better. Faulkner played two games and had that under their belt, so I was pleased with our rebounding. Natasha Howard was a workhorse as she always is and Ivey Slaughter is now following in those footsteps.”
Leading 48-34 at halftime, the Seminoles started to put the clamps down in the second half as they held the Lady Eagles to 8-of-34 shooting in the game’s final 20 minutes. Overall, Faulkner was held to 32.3 percent shooting (21-for-65) while the ‘Noles connected at 41.3 percent.
Florida State’s high-scoring effort included six players posting double-figures. Freshman Ivey Slaughter made her unofficial season debut by pulling down a game-high 18 boards in what was a fine effort for the Macon, Ga., native. Slaughter was one of three players who tallied a double-double, adding 12 points.
“I think she’s so willing to work,” Semrau said of Slaughter. “Anyone that is willing to do the dirty work for us is going to be on the floor. That’s what we’re about, we’re going to get down there and work hard and she’s been that doing that for us since day one and it’s great to see.”
The combination of Slaughter and Howard inside helped the ‘Noles own the paint by outscoring Faulkner 40-16. FSU was able to get out and run effectively with senior guard Cheetah Delgado as the catalyst, having the ball in her hands often on the fast break and not committing a single turnover in the contest.
Freshman center Kai James, one of three McDonald’s All-Americans on the FSU roster, logged 22 effective minutes and chipped in with 11 points and eight rebounds. The 6-foot-5 presence down low altered several shots by the Lady Eagles and displayed some solid moves on the offensive end.
Redshirt sophomore guard Morgan Jones also had a double-double for FSU, finishing with 11 points and 10 boards. The ACC Newcomer Watch List member was versatile in her game and displayed some nice passing artistry with a few pretty feeds to her teammates for easy buckets. Jones posted a game-high seven assists.
The Lady Eagles displayed a nice outside shooting touch early in the game and held on with Florida State, trailing 22-20 with 10:22 remaining in the first half. The ‘Noles started to ramp up their offense and broke away with a 22-4 run over the next six minutes to build a 44-24 lead and steal the game’s momentum.
FSU stayed aggressive in the second half, earning 23 trips to the free-throw line by attacking the basket whenever the opportunity presented itself. The offense remained consistent with another 48 points scored in the game’s final 20 minutes as it cruised to a 38-point victory.
Faulkner was led by guard Christina Hayes’ 13 points, as she was the lone double-figure scorer for the Lady Eagles of the NAIA.
The Seminoles officially begin their 2013-14 campaign on Friday, Nov. 8, when they host UNC Greensboro at 5 p.m. at the Donald L. Tucker Center. The game will be live streamed on ESPN3.com, as all 15 FSU home games will either be carried on ESPN3, through the ACC’s Regional Sports Networks or on ESPNU.
Season tickets for the 2013-14 Florida State women's basketball season are on sale now and can be purchased at Seminoles.com or by calling the Seminole Ticket Office at 1-888-FSUNole.
Season tickets are $50 for adults and $25 for youth and seniors. For the third year in a row, FSU will offer a "Family Pack" for women's hoops season tickets which includes two adults and two youth tickets for $99. Additional youth tickets can be added $15 each.
For more information on Florida State women's basketball, follow the Seminoles on Twitter at @FSU_WBasketball and like their official Facebook page.