Tallahassee - Riding a two-game win streak going into Sunday, the Florida State women’s basketball team could not continue its late-season momentum as it lost to rival Miami, 76-73, on Sunday afternoon at the Donald L. Tucker Center.
Foul issues throughout the game and a giant edge by Miami in the rebounding department were two areas that plagued the Seminoles (17-8, 5-7). Six Florida State players in Ivey Slaughter (4), Natasha Howard (4), Morgan Jones (4), Cheetah Delgado (3), Kai James (3) and Lauren Coleman (3) were whistled for three or more fouls, with many of them having to be careful early in the second half when five FSU fouls were whistled on Miami’s first three possessions.
The Hurricanes (13-12, 5-7), who committed 25 fouls with many coming toward the end of the game, took advantage of FSU’s lack of size in the post. Miami generated 51 total rebounds, the most allowed by FSU this season, and grabbed 17 offensive boards to help keep possessions alive. The ‘Noles entered Sunday’s contest as the top ACC team in offensive rebounding in conference games, but many long rebounds were corralled by an athletic Hurricane squad and resulted in better possessions for Miami.
“Just a great effort by Miami on the boards and just a poor effort on our part,” FSU head coach Sue Semrau said. “That’s what we really pride ourselves on and I thought that was the difference in the basketball game.”
Sophomore forward Keyona Hayes, who was averaging 9.3 points, led Miami with 22 points. The Hurricanes took advantage of slip screens and high-low action on the lower block to generate 26 points in the paint, slightly above FSU’s average.
“She really was effective in their offense and we didn’t do a good of effectively shutting her down,” Semrau added of Hayes.
Miami ended with four double-figure scorers, including Necole Sterling (14), Krystal Saunders (12) and Adrienne Motley (10) along with Hayes. Florida State got a good shooting performance from redshirt sophomore guard Morgan Jones, who generated 19 points for her most in ACC play. Jones tied her season high as well as the team’s high with five 3-point field goals, shooting 7-of-14 while adding eight rebounds.
Jones’ five treys give her 44 this season, tying her for 16th on the FSU single-season 3-point field goals list.
Senior Natasha Howard finished with a hard-earned 17 points on 4-of-13 shooting. The Toledo, Ohio, native was double-teamed every time she touched the ball, but managed to get to the free-throw line 11 times and convert nine points from the stripe.
Florida State hurt itself by missing several baskets underneath. It shot 32.8 percent (22-of-67) to tie for its worst shooting performance of the year. Its other season-low performance actually came in a Top 25 win over Michigan State on Dec. 4.
A bright area for the ‘Noles was once again free-throw shooting. FSU shot 23-of-30 from the free-throw line, hitting 75 percent of its free throws for the fourth consecutive game. FSU also forced just 10 turnovers to tie for its lowest this season.
Sunday’s loss puts an end to a four-game win streak against Miami. FSU was also riding a 10-game win streak against Florida-based opponents that was snapped.
With Miami leading 30-29 in what was a rough first half for both teams, the ‘Noles were mostly trading baskets with the Hurricanes early in the second half. A long 3-ball from Jones with 14:12 left gave FSU a 43-42 lead, but the Hurricanes responded with a key 10-0 run to establish a 52-43 lead with 9:12 left. A big play in the run was a three-point play from Sterling that resulted in Howard’s fourth foul with 11:58 remaining.
FSU refused to give up, as an inside basket from Ivey Slaughter cut their deficit to 59-55 with 5:48 left. However, Saunders responded with a 3-pointer and a jumper to put Miami on top by a nine-point margin with five minutes left in the game. Later, a basket by Motley with 3:38 remaining put Miami ahead 68-57.
Jones tried to keep the ‘Noles in it with her fifth 3-pointer to cut the deficit to 74-69 with 25 seconds left, but a few free-throw conversions by ‘Canes ended FSU’s two-game win streak.
Florida State looks to regroup on the road as it travels to No. 9 Maryland for a televised matchup on Thursday, Feb. 20, at 8:30 p.m. The game will air on FOX Sports Florida as well as a host of other regional networks that are in the ACC footprint.
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).