CHAPEL HILL, N.C. – The No. 20/21-ranked Florida State women’s basketball team clawed back from a 19-point first half deficit to take the lead on Thursday night against No. 11/18 North Carolina.
The Tar Heels ultimately pulled away down the stretch, however, grabbing a 72-62 victory over the Seminoles in Carmichael Arena.
“They did what they do in the first half, and we did what we do in the second half,” Florida State head coach Sue Semrau said. “It was a great game. Injury and foul trouble really hurt us down the stretch. Credit North Carolina for their toughness. I thought (Waltiea) Rolle was the difference-maker with her ability to block shots and her ability to hit the face-up jumper.”
Rolle finished with 18 points and 10 rebounds to lead the Tar Heels, who shot 36 percent from the floor in the second half after hitting 58 percent of their shots in the first frame. FSU shot just 33 percent in the first half and made 14 turnovers. The Noles made 42 percent of their attempts and had just four turnovers after halftime.
Florida State trailed 38-19 with 3:18 remaining before halftime as North Carolina built a commanding lead by making 10 of its first 14 field goals and forcing the Seminoles into turnovers.
Led by junior forward Natasha Howard (12 points, 11 boards), who logged her seventh double-double of the season, and senior guard Leonor Rodriguez (18 points), the Garnet and Gold erased the deficit by the 9:46 mark in the second half.
A three-pointer by senior guard Alexa Deluzio (16 points) gave FSU its only lead of the night, 53-52, with nine minutes left.
North Carolina answered with a 10-2 run powered by eight points from freshman forward Xylina McDaniel and went in front, 62-55, with 6:15 left.
Deluzio’s second three brought the Noles within 4 with 4:55 left, but that’s as close as the Seminoles would get down the stretch.
North Carolina jumped out to a 19-8 lead in the first seven minutes after Rolle made her first five field goal attempts.
The Seminoles scored the last five points of the first half and made two quick baskets in the first 39 seconds of the second half for a 9-0 run that cut their deficit to 10, 38-28.
FSU cut the deficit to 6 on back-to-back baskets by Rodriguez. After a layup in traffic, the 5-11 guard from the Canary Islands forced in a runner that made the score 41-35 and capped a 16-3 run with 16:37 left in the game.
Back-to-back layups by Rodriguez cut the deficit to 3 with 10:48 left and a putback by Deluzio after a loose ball scramble brought the Noles within a point.
Senior point guard Morgan Toles (seven points, eight assists) tied the game when she split a pair of free throws at the 9:46 mark in the second half.
The Seminoles return to action on Sunday at 2 p.m. when they host Clemson at the Donald L. Tucker Center.
Semrau and her staff will coach the game barefoot in support of Samaritan’s Feet. Fans can donate NEW pairs of shoes at the game in an effort to help the millions of people around the world who do not own any shoes.