TALLAHASSEE, FLA. – Led by senior Chasity Clayton’s dominant 20-point, 18-rebound effort, the Florida State women’s basketball team crashed the boards and hit the ground running in the 2012-13 season opener on Sunday, routing Samford 77-42 at the Donald L. Tucker Center.
The Seminoles held a commanding 54-21 advantage on the glass and Clayton actually matched the Bulldogs in rebounds in the first half as she grabbed 12 and added 11 points for her seventh career double-double in the game’s first 20 minutes. She became the first Seminole to grab 18 rebounds in a game since Jacinta Monroe snagged 21 against UAB in the 2006-07 season-opener.
“Everything was working,” Clayton said. “I really wasn’t worried about any (stats). All I could think about was what was going on at the time, play-by-play. When we turned the ball over, I think I was more upset running down the floor trying to stop them in transition. I was worried about executing.”
Looking to run behind point guards Morgan Toles and Cheetah Delgado, the Seminoles pushed the pace on nearly every offensive possession. The fast play was partly responsible for 20 turnovers, but the Noles also made 11 steals and collected 26 points on second chance opportunities. If the Seminoles weren’t running down the floor, they were either in the paint looking to collect a rebound or in the passing lane attempting to force a turnover.
“That was a really good test for us early,” head coach Sue Semrau said. “Samford is a team that shoots the three extremely well. They can back cut you. They can do some things that a young defense early in the year can have trouble with. I thought even being able to play in our zone we did a good job of covering the middle and covering the shooters on the outside. I know Mike (Morris) will have a great team. They’ve won back-to-back SoCon championships. He does a great job with his kids and I know they will grow up. We had a lot of good things, good balanced scoring, and I love having two point guards.”
Clayton’s second career 20-point game led five Noles in double figures, as seniors Chelsea Davis (16), Alexa Deluzio (12) and Leonor Rodriguez (10) and junior Natasha Howard (10) also accomplished the feat.
Davis added nine boards and a career-best-tying three blocks, while Howard made a game-high three steals and drilled 5-of-6 shot attempts.
Toles, a senior, and Delgado, a junior transfer from Hillsborough Community College, both dished six assists and tallied two steals. Toles also had eight rebounds. Each player was often a blur, sprinting from one end of the court to the other before finding a teammate for an easy score.
Samford’s Kendall Schwantz had a career day, scoring 19 points and bettering her previous career high (eight) in the contest’s first six minutes. She scored the Bulldogs’ first nine points and her layup staked the Bulldogs to a 9-6 lead at the 14:27 mark in the first half.
After Shelby Campbell made a layup to put Samford ahead 11-10 six-and-half minutes into the game, the Seminoles sprinted away from the Bulldogs with 13 consecutive points over the next four minutes.
Clayton started the run with a free throw at the 13:20 mark and soon after Toles fed Howard for a layup. Delgado knifed her way into the lane for an ‘And 1’ layup at the 11:20 mark. A jumper by Rodriguez and another ‘And 1’ layup – this time from Deluzio – made the score 21-11 midway through the first half. Rodriguez capped the spurt with a layup that put the Seminoles ahead 23-11 with 9:23 remaining in the contest.
The Seminoles extended the lead to 33-15 on layups by Clayton and Deluzio, and Delgado whipped a pass to Deluzio for the Garnet and Gold’s first trey of the season to make the score 38-17 with 2:57 left in the first half.
Four minutes into the second half, Delgado found Rodriguez for a wide-open trey to make the score 51-27. Delgado put the Seminoles up 30, 65-34, with a layup of her own with seven minutes remaining in the contest.
The Seminoles return to action to take on in-state rival Florida at 7 p.m. on Thursday at the Donald L. Tucker Center. The game will be broadcast live on ESPN3 and anybody under 18 will be admitted free.
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