Tallahassee, FL - An efficient overall performance by the No. 22/20 Florida State women’s basketball team resulted in a 76-53 victory over UT Martin on Saturday afternoon at the Donald L. Tucker Center.
The Seminoles (12-1) had plenty of hot hands in the win as they shot 54.5 percent (30-of-55) from the floor, including 14-of-24 in the second half. In the fine shooting display, Florida State shared the ball extremely well by assisting on 19 of its 30 field goals made. FSU’s fine passing created a lot of easy chances inside, as the ‘Noles held a 50-16 margin in points in the paint over the Skyhawks (7-6).
Florida State is now enjoying its first eight-game win streak since the historic 2009-10 season where it made program history by reaching the NCAA Elite Eight. FSU’s last eight-game win streak occurred from Dec. 30, 2009 to Feb. 28, 2010.
The ‘Noles finish the non-conference portion of their schedule with an impressive 12-1 record. Since joining the Atlantic Coast Conference in the 1991-92 season, it is just the third time FSU has gotten through the non-conference portion of the regular-season schedule with just one loss before entering ACC play.
“I’m really proud of this team and the way that they finished out the non-conference (schedule),” FSU head coach Sue Semrau said. “I thought it was a most complete game. They were very focused, shot the ball extremely well and took great shots and held a very, very good basketball team to a low shooting percentage.”
Leading the way once again was senior All-America candidate Natasha Howard, who tied her career high with 26 points in just 20 minutes of action. UT Martin had no answers for Howard on the low post, as she hit 12 of her 14 shots from the floor and added six rebounds. It was Howard’s 12th 20-point performance of her career and her fifth this season.
Having one of her most complete games of the season was redshirt sophomore guard Morgan Jones. The Lake Mary, Fla., native poured in 17 points on 6-of-11 shooting, which included three long-range shots. Jones added three rebounds and three assists and was vital toward FSU’s offensive movement that featured the ball being worked around the floor in an efficient manner.
Freshman Ivey Slaughter picked up her fifth double-double of the season, recording 11 points and 13 rebounds to help give FSU a gigantic 41-20 edge on the glass. Distributing the ball with great success was freshman Brittany Brown, who had a career-high seven assists, and senior point guard Cheetah Delgado, who also had seven helpers.
Florida State’s 54.5 shooting percentage is the third time this season it has shot above the 50 percent threshold in a game. The win was not only highlighted by a smooth offensive display, but FSU’s ability to force a lot of issues on the defensive side was also a great catalyst to the victory.
UT Martin senior guard Heather Butler came into the game averaging a team-best 21.4 points per game, but FSU held the sharp-shooter to just 4-of-10 from the floor and 16 points. Fellow senior guard Jasmine Newsome, who was averaging 18.6 points, finished with nine on 3-of-11 shooting.
“Those two guards that they have have been scoring 40 points between them and to hold them beyond the 20’s is a big accomplishment for this group,” Semrau added.
UT Martin was held 22 points below its scoring average of 75.3, and also shot 17-of-48 (35.4 percent) in the game. Florida State continues to be the only ACC team to not allow an opponent to score 70 points or more in a game this season. FSU also earned its 17th consecutive non-conference win at home.
FSU took an impressive 43-20 halftime lead, shooting 51.6 percent (16-of-31) from the floor. It marked the fifth time the ‘Noles had shot above the 50 percent mark in the first half, and the third time they reached 40 points in the first 20 minutes. Jones led all players with 15 points, including a jumper from the wing with just seven seconds left before halftime.
Florida State set the tone early with some hot shooting from the floor, drilling six of their first seven shot attempts to take an early 13-6 lead with 15:51 left in the first half. Howard was commanding inside, scoring six early points with a few put-backs and a nice spin move in the post. Brown moved the ball well for the ‘Noles, generating three early assists.
FSU expanded its lead to 23-10 in the game’s second media timeout with 11:41 left. Howard notched her 75th career double-digit scoring performance when she finished a beautiful press-breaking set on offense that was highlighted by Brown’s fourth dish of the game. On the next possession just before the media timeout, Brown entered the land of the post players on an offensive rebound and out-jumped two UT Martin players for an offensive put-back, making it 23-10.
Jones was catching fire for the ‘Noles, hitting another rainbow 3-pointer from the corner to expand the FSU lead to 31-15 with 6:58 remaining in the first half. Brown then was the recipient of a nice full-court pass from Jones for a fastbreak layup to add to the Seminole advantage. Freshman Kai James put FSU at the 40-point mark in the first half for the third time this season on a nice finish inside. James would add seven points in the contest.
The game was out of reach when the ‘Noles soared to a 31-point lead with 6:01 remaining in the game on a converted layup by Brown.
Florida State gets ready for ACC play as it goes on the road to face new conference opponent Pitt on Thursday, Jan. 2, at 7 p.m. at the Petersen Events Center. FSU then plays at Miami on Jan. 9 before hosting its conference opener against No. 10/11 North Carolina on Sunday, Jan. 12, at 1 p.m. on Sun Sports/FOX Sports Florida.