TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (seminoles.com) - The Florida State women's basketball team clicked on the offensive end right from the beginning as it started its season with a 93-59 victory over UNC Greensboro on Friday evening at the Donald L. Tucker Center.
A layup from freshman Brittany Brown three seconds into the game off the opening tip set the tone for a Seminoles (1-0) group that saw five double-figure scorers and hit a scorching 58.6 percent (41-of-70) from the field. It was Florida State's best shooting performance since hitting 62.3 percent of its shots in a victory over Yale on Dec. 28, 2011.
Senior point guard Cheetah Delgado was assertive all night, finishing with 12 points on 6-of-8 shooting. The Kissimmee, Fla., native established her career high with 10 assists as she was the driving force behind a beautiful offensive showing where Florida State did a lot of sharing of the basketball.
Delgado's 12 points and 10 assists also mark the first double-double of her Florida State career.
"It really starts with not just myself, but the team getting to good spots, setting good screens to create space to get open, me getting off the screen having space so I can see it," Delgado said. "So it really starts with our offense and just getting in the right spots and the right position."
Fellow senior Natasha Howard, a Senior CLASS Award candidate, tied her career high with 24 points on 10-for-14 shooting. The Toledo, Ohio, native was a go-to force in the second half, racking up 18 points as she became a focal point of the offense for a large stretch of time.
With a host of Seminoles running and gunning, Florida State was able to hold a decisive advantage in fast break points at 22-0. The `Noles also generated 33 points off turnovers and turned in 64 points in the paint.
However, FSU's defense also had a good performance after holding UNCG (0-1) to just 29.9 percent from the floor.
"The statistic I am most proud of is that we held them to under 30 percent from the floor and that is something that I think a growing team really needs at this point," head coach Sue Semrau said. "I was not pleased with our rebounding effort. I was not pleased with our free throw percentage and those are things that we'll make sure we shore up before we head up to Cincinnati this week."
Brown enjoyed a strong debut for FSU, tallying 17 points on 8-of-11 shooting from the floor. The Fort Walton Beach, Fla., native made arguably the finest play of the game when she led the fast break down the right side and sent a behind-the-back bounce pass to a cutting Howard for a pretty layup.
Redshirt sophomore guard Morgan Jones added 13 points on 6-of-14 shooting while registering eight rebounds and six assists. Freshman forward Ivey Slaughter also picked up her first career double-double with 12 points and 11 boards in 31 minutes of action.
Through the first two media timeouts the `Noles held a 21-10 advantage, as five of the seven FSU players who saw court time were able to record a basket. Florida State got into its fast break early, with six of their first 10 points coming on the run as Delgado spear-headed FSU's quick scores down the floor.
UNCG hung around in the first half, using a layup by Janae' Stevenson with 6:27 in to stay within reach trailing 30-23. The Spartans forced a few turnovers during the stretch as they tried to close the gap and create a manageable distance before halftime.
A big flurry shortly before the end of the first half helped the `Noles take a 48-26 lead at halftime. The 16-0 run was culminated by a layup from Slaughter to punctuate the decisive stretch that saw FSU clinging to a 32-26 lead at the beginning of the run. Florida State shot 21-for-35 at the 20-minute mark, good enough for 60 percent while the Spartans were held to 10-for-32 (31.3 percent) from the field.
Florida State started the second half strong, carrying over its first-half run and creating a 22-0 run to take a 54-26 advantage at the 17:38 mark in the second half. FSU would shoot 57.1 percent in the game's final 20 minutes, outscoring the Spartans 45-33.
"It started because we took better care of the ball, we took better shots and we were able to score more easy baskets," Semrau said of the big run. "Sometimes when you take better shots offensively, it makes you better defensively."
The `Noles have now won 20 consecutive season openers and are 17-0 in season openers under Semrau. FSU entered the night averaging nearly 83 points per game under its current head coach in season openers and raised that average.
Florida State plays its first road game of the season on Wednesday, Nov. 13, against Cincinnati at 7 p.m.
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).