Clemson, SC - It may be a new season but the end result was the same for the No. 16 Florida State women’s basketball team.
Just like the Seminoles did last year when they traveled to Clemson after a loss, FSU came out on top against the Tigers Thursday night at Littlejohn Coliseum. This time around it was an 83-73 victory that extended Florida State’s winning streak to five straight in the series.
The outcome pushed the ’Noles’ record to 15-4 overall and 3-1 in conference play. In-state and in-conference rival Miami is FSU’s next opponent as the ’Canes come to the Donald L. Tucker Center Monday night.
Against the Tigers (8-12, 1-4 Atlantic Coast Conference), senior guard Courtney Ward’s team-high 21 points paced a Seminoles team that had four players score in double figures.
Junior forward Cierra Bravard registered her team-high fifth double-double of the year with 12 points and 11 rebounds.
Redshirt sophomore guard Alexa Deluzio contributed with 17 points and seven rebounds while freshman forward Natasha Howard had 16 points and nine rebounds.
Redshirt sophomore Chasity Clayton added eight points and senior guard Christian Hunnicutt dished out a team-best five assists to go along with her six points
“It’s always good to get a win on the road in the ACC,” FSU head coach Sue Semrau said.
Unlike last season when Clemson couldn’t compete in an 80-50 FSU victory, the Tigers proved harder to put away in 2011.
Florida State, which has now beat Clemson 16 of the last 17 meetings, boasted a 36-31 lead at halftime following Ward’s buzzer-beating 3-pointer but never could build a substantial lead in the second period.
After Clemson tied the game at 51-51, the Seminoles found a rhythm and generated a 68-57 lead with just under six minutes left to play. Another Ward 3-pointer after a Tigers’ bucket then put FSU on top 71-59 with 4:49 on the game clock.
It was a double-digit lead that wouldn’t last, though, as Clemson battled back to 76-68 with 2:04 left to play.
Following an FSU timeout, Ward answered with a lay-in off the glass before the Tigers scored on the other end. Down 78-70 in the final minute-and-change, Clemson was then forced to foul and the ’Noles made them pay by making five of their final six free-throws.
“We went cold there for awhile,” Semrau said. “Clemson took advantage of that and they have great 3-point shooters. We got burned a couple of times. They use their weapons real well but we found a way to win.”
For the game, the Seminoles shot 36 percent from the floor while Clemson shot 44 percent. FSU won the rebound battle 51-43 and forced 14 turnovers and gave it away just 10 times.
Monday’s top-25 showdown with Miami not only serve as a big game between rivals but it will also be the contest that Semrau coaches barefoot as part of the partnership between Samaritan’s Feet and the FSU women’s basketball program.
In the two previous years that the Seminoles have been involved, the team has been responsible for the collection of more than $25,000, and more than 1000 pairs of shoes that have been distributed to the homeless in Tallahassee and needy children in Haiti, Southern Africa and most recently in Freeport, Bahamas.
Fans that attend the game are encouraged to donate a pair of new shoes upon entrance to the Tucker Center.
“We are excited for the fans to come out and see a great game,” Semrau said. “It’s really fun to watch the looks on kids faces when they get these new shoes and we encourage everyone to bring a new pair of shoes to the Tucker Center when you come.”