TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – The 23rd-ranked Florida State women’s basketball team was dominant on both ends of the floor in a 94-42 victory over Mercer on Wednesday night at the Donald L. Tucker Center.
The Seminoles had a season-high 59 rebounds and a season-low 12 turnovers. FSU connected on 51.3 percent of its field goal attempts and held the Bears to just 23.2 percent from the floor, including 1-of-17 from three. Only one Mercer player scored more than six points.
It was a fantastic performance for Florida State, which improved to 9-1 overall and 6-0 at home, but not out of the ordinary this season.
“I expect it,” head coach Sue Semrau said. “I have great kids. I have great players. Natasha (Howard) had a double-double at the half. (Alexa Deluzio) is playing her best basketball. It’s really fun. And having five kids in double figures game in and game out makes us so tough to guard.”
The Noles are the only team in the country with five players averaging at least 10 points per game. Led by 17 points from Howard and senior post Chelsea Davis, they accomplished the feat for the fifth time this season.
Deluzio added 15 points, while seniors Chasity Clayton and Leonor Rodriguez contributed 13 and 10, respectively.
Howard tallied her second straight double-double and 18th of her career with 12 points and 11 boards in the first 20 minutes of the game. She finished with 17 points, 12 boards and a career-best-matching four blocks.
Junior point guard Yashira “Cheetah” Delgado added seven points, seven assists and five boards, while freshman Jakelle King-Gilchrist had the best game of her short college career, scoring nine points on her birthday.
“No one is out there worrying about their points or their performance,” Deluzio said. “We’re worried about a win and whatever that looks like everybody is happy about it. It makes playing very enjoyable.”
The Seminoles’ 52-point victory margin tied for the seventh-largest win in FSU history and the 94 points marked the fourth time this season FSU has eclipsed the 90-point mark. The last time FSU reached 90 that many times in an entire season came during the 1991-92 campaign.
Mercer missed its first 10 field goal attempts and started the game in a 1-for-19 funk, as Florida State stormed to leads of 19-6 and 32-16 in the first half. The Seminoles closed the first half on an 8-2 run behind two straight layups by Davis and a basket by Clayton and took a 42-21 lead into the break.
After Mercer guard Precious Bridges drilled a jumper to make the score 48-27 two-and-half minutes into the second half, Florida State scored 16 consecutive points over the next five minutes.
Rodriguez swished and 18-footer before driving in for a layup to ignite the run, while Howard and Clayton each made a pair of easy layups during the spurt that gave the Garnet and Gold a 36-point lead with 12:29 left in the game. Howard also had two emphatic blocks during the streak.
With eight minutes remaining, Deluzio buried a three from the corner that made the score 74-31. In what was emblematic of the unselfish performance, the Noles passed the ball around the perimeter four times before finding the wide-open Orlando, Fla., native.
“This team is really starting to play together and enjoying the game,” Semrau said. “They accept the challenges we throw at them. I thought we got better as we went tonight. That’s really important. They didn’t coast.”
The Seminoles shot 61 percent in the second half and outscored the Bears by 31 points after the break.
Florida State returns to action this Saturday at noon at the Greensboro (N.C.) Coliseum where it will face UNCG before taking seven days off. The Seminoles open the ACC slate against Boston College on Dec. 30 at 2 p.m. at the Donald L. Tucker Center.
For more information on Florida State women's basketball, follow the Seminoles on Twitter @FSU_WBasketball and like their official Facebook page.