SAN JUAN, P.R. – Led by the senior trio of Morgan Toles, Leonor Rodriguez and Chasity Clayton, the Florida State women’s basketball team opened the San Juan Shootout with a dominant 90-51 victory over Eastern Kentucky on Friday afternoon at Mario Morales Coliseum.
The 39-point win marks the first time the FSU women’s basketball program has ever won four consecutive games by 30 or more points. The Noles opened the season by defeating Samford (77-42), Florida (98-67) and Stetson (76-44).
Toles didn’t score a point, but was the catalyst for a Seminole squad that shot 54 percent from the field and 62 percent from three, dishing 10 assists and committing zero turnovers.
Rodriguez didn’t miss a shot, going 8-for-8 from the floor and making three treys, en route a career-best 22 points. Clayton matched her career-best with 21 points, on a mix of fastbreak layups, pull-up jumpers and her first trey of the season.
“Not since (former Nole) Courtney Ward have I seen a point guard that can distribute the ball like Morgan and Cheetah (Delgado) can,” head coach Sue Semrau said. “Their poise and selflessness have been vital to our early success this season. Tonight, Morgan was dishing it where they could score. We were knocking down our shots because we took great shots. Leo went 8-for-8 because she knows what to do in our offense and what shots she can make. It was a great win.”
Delgado, a second-generation Puerto Rican, dished six assists and had just one turnover, playing in front of family and friends.
Ward was the last Seminole to record double figures in assists, accomplishing the feat 83 games ago on Jan. 21, 2010 in an FSU victory against Harvard.
Junior forward Natasha Howard added 14 points, while seniors Chelsea Davis (11) and Alexa Deluzio (13) also reached double-figures off the bench.
The Seminoles led from the start and forced EKU into 24 turnovers and just 36 percent shooting.
Florida State jumped out to a 7-0 lead as Clayton made consecutive baskets and Rodriguez drilled a three-pointer, but FSU led just 9-8 six minutes into the contest.
A Deluzio three at the 12:56 mark sparked a 25-6 run for the Noles, however. The Seminoles took a 34-14 lead in a blink of an eye and a 43-18 advantage into the break.
Rodriguez and Davis had back-to-back three-point plays on “And-1” layups in the 12th minute of the game in the midst of 16 consecutive points for the Seminoles that effectively ended any threat by the Colonels, who had started the season 3-0.
In the second half, Clayton made a pair of buckets to put the Seminoles in front 49-20 with 18:30 to play. Her trey at the 14:24 mark in the second half gave the Garnet and Gold its first 30-point lead and her layup off a one-handed thread-the-needle pass from Toles put FSU in front by 40 points, 77-37, with eight minutes left.
All 11 Seminoles played at least six minutes and freshman Jakelle King-Gilchrist made the first field goal of her career at the 11:34 mark in the second half.
Florida State must now turn its attention to its toughest test of the season so far as No. 17/19-ranked Vanderbilt awaits on Saturday at 5 p.m. ET on the final day of the San Juan Shootout.
“Vanderbilt is a great team,” Semrau said. “They have all of their starters back other than one that is hurt. It’s going to be a real challenge.”
The Commodores are the first ranked team the Seminoles will face this season. The two squads have battled the past two seasons and split the outcomes. Vanderbilt won last year, 64-59, in Nashville despite a double-double from Clayton. FSU beat VU, 72-66, in Tallahassee two years ago.
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