TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – The 18th-ranked Florida State women’s basketball team bounced back in a major way on Sunday at the Donald L. Tucker Center, speeding past interstate ACC rival and No. 24-ranked Miami, 86-65.
The Seminoles halted their two-game losing streak and defeated their second ranked opponent of the season thanks to an improved rebounding effort, better ball security and stout defense.
FSU allowed Wake Forest to grab 19 offensive rebounds and committed a season-high 23 turnovers in a loss on Thursday. On Sunday, the Garnet and Gold held the Hurricanes to eight rebounds below their season average while making just 14 turnovers.
“We came back from a tough loss and we worked hard in practice; that was the difference,” Florida State head coach Sue Semrau said. “It was what we did in practice. The results against a very good Miami team are very exciting for us and hopefully we’ll use it to get some momentum to become a better basketball team.”
Florida State received a double-double from senior post Chelsea Davis (13 points and a career-best 13 rebounds) and a 20-point, nine-board performance from junior forward Natasha Howard.
Senior guard Leonor Rodriguez scored 21 points and made 3-of-5 from behind the arc, while senior forward Chasity Clayton added 14 points off the bench. Junior guard Yashira “Cheetah” Delgado matched her career-high with nine points, dished a game-high five assists and nailed her first three-pointer as a Seminole.
The Seminoles shot 51 percent from the floor, while holding the Hurricanes to just 38 percent, and nabbed a 41-37 overall edge on the glass.
“(Davis) was tremendous all the way around,” Semrau said. “We really challenged her to be a defensive rebounder and she always has kind of been the one that boxes everybody out and someone else goes and gets it (the rebound). We really challenged her to come up with those boards and the fact that she did tonight was great.
“We have five seniors and two juniors…they are very intelligent young women and they want it as much as anybody wants it. They really took it to heart and worked on the things we needed to do to be a better basketball team.”
Leading 19-14, the Seminoles exploded for 11 points in a minute-and-half stretch midway through the first frame. Rodriguez sparked the run with a three-point swish. She and Davis both nailed jumpers before senior guard Alexa Deluzio gave Florida State a 30-18 lead at the 7:32 mark in the first half.
Howard’s putback a little over a minute later put FSU in front by 16 with 6:10 left before the break.
The Hurricanes cut the Seminoles advantage to 10 at the 2:26 mark in the first, but the Seminoles held a 42-29 lead at halftime after a Davis putback at the 31-second mark.
Florida State made 5 of its first 7 shot attempts of the second half and took a 17-point lead, 48-31, two minutes into the final frame on a fastbreak layup by Rodriguez.
Miami center Shawnice Wilson made a free throw to bring the Hurricanes within 14, 52-38, with 15:28 left in the game.
That was the closest Miami would get the rest of the way, however, as the Seminoles answered by going on a 14-2 back-breaking run over the next four minutes.
Rodriguez dished a no-look pass to Delgado who made a layup to make the score 56-38. On FSU’s next possession, Delgado drilled an 18-footer and then returned the favor to Rodriguez with a dish for a layup that put the Noles ahead by 22 with 13:23 left.
Four consecutive free throws by Clayton and a layup by Howard gave Florida State an insurmountable 66-40 lead with 11:37 left in the contest.
“It was a great team effort,” Rodriguez said. “We worked hard the past couple of days – knowing who we had to stop and we answered them. It feels good, it feels refreshing. The last few practices have been harder, but mentally we needed to get back to being ourselves, and tonight we did it.”
Florida State returns to action with a pair of road games next week at Boston College on Thursday at 7 p.m. and at NC State at 3 p.m. on Jan. 20.