Tallahassee, FL - The help of a strong supporting cast gave the No. 24/25 Florida State women’s basketball team a big lift on Sunday afternoon as it defeated Virginia Tech, 70-54, in an ACC tilt at the Donald L. Tucker Center.
Freshman forward Ivey Slaughter contributed 12 points and 12 boards in what was her eighth double-double of the season, while sophomore guard Emiah Bingley came off the bench to deliver 13 points – all in the first half – to help build a sizeable lead early that the Hokies (10-9, 0-6) were never able to overcome.
The Seminoles (15-5, 3-4) snapped their four-game losing streak by allowing their defense to help create their offense, forcing 25 Virginia Tech turnovers that helped lead to 22 points. It was Florida State’s largest amount of turnovers forced in conference play and its fourth-most forced this season.
“I thought our communication was much better on the defensive end today and it allowed us to get out in passing lanes, “FSU head coach Sue Semrau said. “For both ‘Tasha and Brittany (Brown) to come up with five steals each was big in helping us get our transition going. We felt like our back was against the wall and they practiced that way, and that helped make a difference in today’s game.”
FSU senior forward Natasha Howard erupted for 15 points in the second half and finished with 17 points and a career-high tying five steals. Throughout the game, Virginia Tech pinched two defenders on Howard and allowed players like Slaughter to get wider lanes to the hoop as well as take advantage of the offensive glass.
Slaughter gave the ‘Noles a giant spark early with her aggression to the cup. The fearless freshman is averaging 8.5 rebounds this season and is on pace to average the highest amount of rebounds by a freshman at FSU since former player Lorraine Rimson averaged 8.7 boards in her first year in 1983-84.
Bingley did not attempt a shot in the second half, but her 13 points in the first half was a shot in the arm for FSU. She is shooting 12-of-31 from long range this season (38.7 percent), and is only two games removed from nailing a team-best five 3-pointers at Virginia.
Senior point guard Cheetah Delgado assisted the ‘Noles tremendously with a strong all-around game. The floor leader recorded nine points on 4-of-6 shooting, dished out nine assists and only committed two turnovers with the ball in her hands for much of the 39 minutes she played. The Nancy Lieberman Award Watch List candidate tied her season low for turnovers, committing just two against Michigan State and Prairie View A&M earlier this season.
Redshirt junior Lauren Coleman provided a lift off the bench, recording her fourth game in which she made multiple 3-point field goals. The resident of Lawrenceville, Ga., hit two from long range and gave good energy in her 13 minutes of action. Freshman Brittany Brown made her presence felt defensively, tying her career high with five steals.
Virginia Tech made 20-of-46 (43.5 percent) from the field but was just 3-of-14 (21.4 percent) from 3-point range. FSU shot 40.6 percent from the floor but used six 3-pointers to its advantage, its second-most in conference play behind seven three’s at Virginia. While both teams finished even on the glass with 35 rebounds apiece, FSU held Virginia Tech senior forward Uju Ugoka to just one offensive rebound, tying her season low.
Ugoka would finish with a game-high 22 points and 10 rebounds, but committed eight turnovers. Guard Monet Tellier added 14 points on 4-of-7 shooting.
Virginia Tech began to creep back into the game trailing 49-33 with 14:14 remaining. Ugoka was aggressive in taking the ball to the hole, scoring 16 points on 8-of-12 shooting to help the Hokies fight back. However, FSU did not allow the Hokies to cut into the deficit much over the next few minutes, using a three-point play by Howard underneath to put the ‘Noles on top 57-39 with 11:20 remaining.
Howard would play a huge role in the second half, using three “and-1’s” to quell any chances of a Virginia Tech comeback. Howard sparked a late 7-0 run that allowed FSU to stretch its lead to 70-52 with 1:13 remaining, highlighted by five points from her during the run.
The ‘Noles took a 42-20 halftime lead into the locker room on a buzzer-beating half-court shot from Delgado, who also had a half-court buzzer-beater in last year’s ACC Tournament semifinals against Duke. It was FSU’s largest halftime lead in ACC play, as it was bolstered by the play of Slaughter and Bingley while generating 15 Virginia Tech turnovers.
Bingley was hot from the outside in the first half, hitting her first three-point attempts and finishing the first 20 minutes with 13 points off the bench on 5-of-6 shooting. Slaughter contributed to FSU’s big edge in points off turnovers (14-6) and second-chance points (10-4), garnering 12 points and nine rebounds at the half.
The ‘Noles out-shot Virginia Tech in the first half, shooting 46 percent compared to 40 percent by the Hokies. FSU forced 15 turnovers, halfway toward its season high of 28 turnovers forced against Prairie View A&M on Nov. 17.
Florida State forced Virginia Tech into six turnovers on its first seven possessions, generating seven points off turnovers to take an early 15-7 lead with 14:17 left. Morgan Jones helped FSU with four points early on a couple pull-up jumpers, and Slaughter contributed on the glass and in the scoring column with five early points and five boards.
Slaughter continued to dominate the boards, garnering 12 points and nine rebounds as FSU took a 24-13 lead with 7:53 remaining in the first half. She had nine of FSU’s first 11 rebounds in the game and continued to give the ‘Noles second-chance opportunities on the offensive glass, as FSU held an early 8-0 advantage in the specialty category.
FSU gets back on the road with an important conference matchup at Wake Forest on Sunday, Feb. 2, at 2 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).