LOUISVILLE, Ky. (seminoles.com) – The Florida State women’s basketball team hung with No. 4/3 Louisville all afternoon but ultimately fell to the NCAA national runner-ups in overtime, 69-59, on Sunday afternoon in front of 10,045 fans at the KFC Yum! Center in Louisville, Kentucky.
The Seminoles (4-1) had a chance to virtually win the game with four seconds left in regulation but missed a shot from beyond the arc to force the extra period. From there, the Cardinals (6-0) outscored the ‘Noles 15-5 to earn the victory.
“I’m very proud of the way we played,” FSU head coach Sue Semrau said. “We rebounded well and stuck to our game plans, mixed up our defenses. Natasha Howard was a workhorse today and does so many things for us. She’s a double-double waiting to happen and really helped us out today.”
Howard finished with 13 points and 14 rebounds for her 27th career double-double, just four shy of tying the school record held by Sue Galkantas (1981-84) at 31. The Toledo, Ohio, native shot 6-of-10 from the field and gave Florida State a tremendous inside presence defensively with three blocks.
Howard’s 13 points now give her 1,202 for her career, moving her past both Christy Derlak (1990-94) and Courtney Ward (2007-11) for 20th on the school list. She also moves into eighth in rebounds with 778 for her career.
Louisville came into the game averaging 95.2 points per game but was stymied many times by a suffocating Florida State defense. The ‘Noles held UofL to 36.4 percent shooting and outrebounded the Cardinals (6-0) 46-40. In the second half, Louisville was reliant on the shooting of guard Shoni Schimmel, who finished with 21 points on 7-of-20 shooting including 5-of-14 from 3-point range.
Senior Cheetah Delgado had another strong performance, going 6-of-12 for 12 points, five rebounds and four assists. Freshman Ivey Slaughter added nine points and nine boards, while freshman Kai James had six rebounds and two blocks.
FSU was hurt by its 26 turnovers, which were converted into 29 points by the Cardinals. However, the ‘Noles once again had the edge in the paint, winning 36-26.
Louisville tried to break the game open in the second half but FSU held on dearly, with the game knotted at 38-38 at the 11:24 mark. Shoni Schimmel began to catch fire from deep but FSU held tough with its gritty defense. James aided the ‘Noles by altering shots underneath and hit a turnaround hook shot to help FSU tie the game at the third media timeout of the second half.
The Cardinals looked to seize the momentum when Jude Schimmel took a steal down the center of the court for a fastbreak layup to put Louisville ahead 46-40 with 6:49 remaining in the game. However, FSU countered with an 8-0 run which was capped by a layup by Slaughter with the foul to put the ‘Noles ahead 48-46 with 3:11 remaining.
The ‘Noles clung to a 29-25 lead at halftime, as Louisville’s Shoni Schimmel drained a 3-pointer from the wing to close out the half. Florida State forced 13 turnovers but also committed the same amount on offense, and held a good-shooting team to just eight field goals and 28.6 percent shooting in the first half.
Howard put in nine points and pulled down seven boards in what was a good showing through the first 20 minutes for the senior leader. She shot 4-of-6 from the field and used a few moves in the paint to get good looks. FSU did its best to work the ball around and shot 12-of-30 (40 percent) through the game’s first 20 minutes.
Florida State got off to a good defensive start and capitalized on opportunities from the offensive end. Howard and Slaughter was very active inside, generating four points apiece early, and a pull-up jumper by Morgan Jones in transition gave FSU a 10-4 lead at the 14:55 mark of the first half.
The ‘Noles went on a 15-0 run early in the game, highlighted by a couple 3-pointers from Lauren Coleman and Brittany Brown to extend the lead to 19-4 with 12:45 remaining. Louisville had a few quick baskets to get back in the game, but FSU’s defense held tough and forced tough contest shots from outside the paint.
A 9-0 run by the Cardinals, trailing 24-12, allowed them to get right back in the game as Antonita Slaughter provided eight of those points during the run. However, a straightaway jumper by Delgado with 1:13 remaining helped stop the momentum a little until Schimmel’s 3-ball to end the first half.
Florida State begins a three-game home stint on Friday, Nov.29, when it hosts Stetson at the Donald L. Tucker Center at 7 p.m. on ESPN3.
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