TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (Seminoles.com) – The Florida State women’s hoops team used a fine defensive effort that included allowing a season-low in points as it cruised past Jacksonville, 71-33, on Sunday afternoon at the Donald L. Tucker Center.
The Seminoles (8-1) held the Dolphins (3-3) to just 25.4 percent from the field (15-for-59) as their zone defense forced tough, contested jump shots and made it difficult for JU to penetrate the lane and get quality looks. Jacksonville’s 33 points scored was lower than FSU’s previous season-best performance against Prairie View A&M, which included allowing 37 points.
“I was pleased with a lot of things that we saw today,” FSU head coach Sue Semrau said. “I thought we were a little bit more patient than we have been in the past, but still not patient enough for a coach. We will have some opportunities for some things to work on during finals week, but it is always nice to beat an in-state opponent.”
The ‘Noles have now defeated eight consecutive opponents from the state of Florida, a streak that began when FSU defeated rival Florida last season by a 98-67 score on Nov. 15, 2012. Their win over Jacksonville included a game-high 18 points and nine rebounds from senior All-America candidate Natasha Howard, who fell one rebound shy of tying the school record for double-doubles.
Howard made more history at Florida State as her 18 points elevated her career scoring total to 1,281 points, jumping to 15th all-time at FSU.
Freshman forward Ivey Slaughter aided the ‘Noles in the scoring column with a career-high 14 points while adding seven boards. Redshirt sophomore Morgan Jones was comfortable shooting the ball and helping run the offense, finishing with 15 on 5-of-9 shooting and adding eight rebounds and four assists.
FSU created havoc once again on the defensive end by forcing 26 turnovers and rushing the JU offense by putting pressure on its ball-handlers in the paint. Howard added four blocks for the ‘Noles in addition to her 71st career double-figure scoring game, and the ‘Noles also limited the Dolphins from beyond the arc by forcing them to go 0-for11.
“They always say that offense comes later and the defense comes first, and I’ve been really pleased how we’ve been playing defensively,” Semrau added. “Offensively, I think we’ve turned the ball over too many times. We don’t really understand all that we’re doing yet, and that’s to be expected with a young team – not just young players, but a young collection of players. Learning each other is something we will spend a lot of time on now that we have an opportunity to practice without opponent preparation.”
Florida State’s win improves its home win streak vs. nonconference competition to 15 games.
Other FSU players started to get more involved in the offense in the second half, as the ‘Noles held a 52-23 lead with 11:58 remaining. Freshman Brittany Brown and Slaughter were beneficiaries of point guard Cheetah Delgado’s attack-mode style where she drove the lane and dished, giving FSU some easy buckets.
Howard’s 10 points helped Florida State to a 35-13 halftime lead, the second-lowest halftime point total by an opponent this season. Jacksonville managed to hit just 5-of-33 shots in the first half thanks to a suffocating FSU defense that also amassed five blocks. While FSU dominated early, it used a 13-0 run to turn a 19-9 lead into a 32-9 advantage highlighted by a patented rainbow 3-pointer from Jones.
FSU shot well in the game’s first 20 minutes, going 15-of-30 from the floor.
Florida State started off hot from the field, storming to a 12-0 lead through the first media timeout at 15:55. Howard fittingly started the game with an inside turnaround bucket to move into a tie for 16th on the FSU career scoring list.
The ‘Noles kept the pressure on and held the Dolphins scoreless through the first 4:10 until Sherrand Reddick hit a mid-range jumper to put JU on the scoreboard. Jones helped run the offense and dished out three assists in the first eight minutes while Howard led FSU with six points early. Freshman James also got into the act early with a turnaround shot off the glass and another shot from 15 feet to help FSU to an 18-5 advantage. James would finish with seven points.
Queen Alford led Jacksonville with eight points and four field goals made. FSU’s win ends the Dolphins’ three-game win streak.
Florida State’s next game occurs in eight days as it takes time off from competition to prepare for final exams. The ‘Noles host North Florida on Monday, Dec. 16, at 7 p.m. in a matchup that will once again be live streamed on ESPN3.
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).