GAINESVILLE, Fla. (seminoles.com) – Redshirt sophomore Morgan Jones netted a season-high 24 points, including five closing free throws in the final minute, to help Florida State women’s basketball earn a 76-68 win at Florida on Thursday night at the Stephen C. O’Connell Center in Gainesville, Fla.
The win for the Seminoles (4-0) marks their fourth win over the Gators (3-2) in the last five seasons dating back to 2009-10. Jones’ 24 points on 6-of-12 shooting were a product of spot-up jumpers from beyond the arc and some key drives to the basket. For the remaining 1:34 of the game, the Lake Mary, Fla., native also assumed point-guard duties as UF made a serious effort to get itself back in the game.
Florida State drained a season-best eight 3-pointers in the contest, and used a 55.6 percent shooting effort in the second half (15-of-27) to grab a 16-point lead with 10 minutes and hang on at the end.
“I think our runs were key tonight,” head coach Sue Semrau said following her 500th game at Florida State. “I think sustaining the runs was big and Morgan Jones really helped us there when Cheetah fouled out late. Overall, it was a good win for us.”
The ‘Noles were also effective at the free-throw line, hitting 18 of 22 shots (81.8 percent) as it began to attack the lane with greater efficiency in the second half. With both teams employing zone defenses, shots from the inside were hard to come by in the first half until things opened up more in the final 20 minutes.
Jones, who went 8-of-10 from the charity stripe, also had nine boards and hit four three-pointers. It was the seventh 20-point performance of her collegiate career and her 28th double-figure outing.
Delgado tied her career high with 14 points on 5-of-7 shooting and added eight assists. When the offense would break down, Delgado did a great job of making plays by driving to the hoop or finding the open shooter.
Freshman Brittany Brown gave FSU a big boost in the second half, scoring 13 points overall and draining some big shots during an important stretch in the second half where FSU outscored UF 24-13 in the first 10 minutes. Senior Natasha Howard added 11 points and eight boards, and put together some quality post baskets when UF was creeping back into the game with five minutes remaining.
FSU out-rebounded the Gators 42-38 and forced 23 turnovers. The ‘Noles held UF’s leading scorer Jaterra Bonds to just 12 points on 1-of-11 shooting. UF shot just 31.7 percent from the floor (20-for-63) and relied heavily on its nine three-pointers for scoring chances.
Lauren Coleman’s three-pointer from the corner gave FSU a 58-42 lead with 10:03 left off a nice drive and dish from Delgado. However, the Gators got a couple turnovers and went on a quick 7-0 run to make it a nine-point game at 58-49. Howard stopped the bleeding by catching the ball in the post and putting it off the glass to make it 60-49. A nice seal by Kai James resulted in an easy basket underneath to then put FSU ahead 64-50 with 7:21 left.
UF made a run and cut the ‘Noles lead to 69-62 on a layup by January Miller with 3:07 remaining. Ronni Williams then put in a left-handed layup to cut the deficit to 69-64, but Delgado came back to make two clutch free throws 2:28 left. The ‘Noles then clung to a 71-66 lead with Delgado fouled out, and Jones executed down the stretch with her five three throws to seal the game.
In the second half the ‘Noles started by countering every Florida basket, as Brown canned two three-pointers from the wing including a long-range one from about 23 feet to put FSU ahead 42-35 with 17:34 left. Delgado then came down the floor and used a few seals from her teammates for a quick drive to the basket for two, making it 44-35 ‘Noles.
Florida State took a 34-29 lead into the locker room at halftime, holding Florida to just 7-of-27 from the field. Jones was already halfway toward her career high in points as she had 14 which include three treys to help the ‘Noles to a five-point lead. FSU was able to force 12 turnovers by UF, which helped it to its largest lead of the first half which was a 30-19 advantage on a jump shot inside by Kai James.
Both teams showed their defensive prowess early as the ‘Noles held just a 5-4 lead going into the first media timeout at the 15:44 mark of the first half. FSU’s first two baskets were a result of Delgado’s driving in the lane, as she kicked out a three-pointer for Brown and made a nice pass to Jones for an easy basket.
Jones began to heat up as FSU held a 22-14 lead with 7:13 remaining in the first half. In the hot-scoring stretch, she delivered three 3-pointers and Brown capped the lead with a nice dribble and drive to the hoop to force a timeout by the Gators.
Florida State is back on the road as it travels to face No. 3 Louisville on Sunday, Nov. 24, at 2 p.m. at the KFC Yum! Center. Fans can listen to the action by tuning into WNLS 1270 AM or by logging onto 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).