TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (seminoles.com) – A commanding presence in the low post by senior forward Natasha Howard and freshman Ivey Slaughter was the big difference as No. 24/25 Florida State women’s basketball got past North Florida, 61-42, on Monday evening at the Donald L. Tucker Center.
In a game that featured plenty of physical play from both teams, the Seminoles (9-1) earned their fifth consecutive win by getting easier chances to score down in the low post. Slaughter established a career high with 19 points and added 11 rebounds for her fourth double-double of the season. The Macon, Ga., native earned 11 of her points from the free-throw line by showing her aggressiveness in the paint.
Howard recorded her 72nd career double-figure scoring effort with 18 points on 7-of-8 shooting in 25 minutes of action. It was the ninth time in 10 games the Toledo, Ohio, native notched double digits in the scoring column, as she moved into 14th on the school’s all-time scoring list with 1,299 career points.
“I can tell that it’s been eight days since we’ve played,” head coach Sue Semrau said of Florida State’s performance. “I thought we were extremely rusty in some areas. I did like the effort that I saw. Even though things weren’t going our way I thought we had great effort from a lot of individuals and that’s always really important. Now we’ve got to really go back and work because we have three great teams – we’ll face two of the three when we go out to California.”
A major highlight of Monday’s game was the season debut of sophomore guard Emiah Bingley, an Iowa State transfer who enrolled at Florida State last January and had to miss virtually all of the fall semester due to NCAA transfer rules. In 28 minutes of action, Bingley provided plenty of energy as she chipped in with six points and four rebounds in the win.
“You know, it wasn’t as nerve wracking as I thought it would be,” Bingley said of playing her first game as a Seminole. “I felt calm. I felt like I hadn’t sat out a whole year. It was really good to get out there and be a part of the team.”
The ‘Noles held the Ospreys (2-7) right around its season average in terms of field goal percentage defense to 32.6 percent (15-of-46). UNF was led by Amber Robinson’s 10 points. Robinson is the sister of heralded Florida State athletic trainer Amanda Robinson.
As has been the case all season, FSU’s driving attack and forcing the ball in the post allowed for many chances at the free throw line. The ‘Noles shot 22-of-33 from the charity stripe, while UNF shot 5-of-12. FSU was the beneficiary of 24 fouls called on the Ospreys, and dominated the points in the paint battle, 30-10.
In the second half, Bingley’s 3-ball from the corner put FSU ahead 38-21 with 16:06 left in the game. The shot was more significant in that it was the ‘Noles’ first made field goal from outside the paint. Redshirt sophomore Morgan Jones then followed with a long-range shot, and a nice transition basket by Slaughter off a beautiful cross-court pass from Jones put FSU ahead 43-22 with just under 13 minutes left in the game.
Jones would finish with nine points in the contest, including two three-pointers. She has garnered multiple 3’s in six of her 10 games played this season.
For the second straight game, FSU did not allow points for the first six minutes until UNF’s Robinson hit a jumper at the 14:36 mark to make it 11-2 ‘Noles in the first half. Just over a minute later Destinee Smith hit a triple to cut the Osprey deficit to 11-5. FSU looked to get the ball inside and utilize its season-long edge in points in the paint, as Howard had six points and Slaughter added five at the 12-minute mark of the first half.
The Ospreys tried hanging around, getting another 3-pointer by Flo Ward to cut FSU’s lead to 17-8 at the 7:58 mark of the first half. FSU struggled from the field early, shooting of 6-of-18 and just 5-of-10 from the free throw line. UNF’s shooting woes continued as it was 3-of-14 through the third media timeout.
More suffocating defense led to a 23-11 lead for FSU, as UNF was held without a field goal for nearly four minutes going into the final media timeout. UNF’s best opportunity for early buckets came from the outside, with four of its first five field goals made coming from beyond the arc.
The ‘Noles ended the first half on a mini-flurry from the field, as Delgado took a missed field goal by UNF down the floor and hit a pull-up jumper inside the paint from around 12 feet to beat the buzzer and give FSU a 28-17 halftime advantage. Howard led FSU with 12 points at the half.
FSU now holds a 10-game win streak against opponents from the state of Florida. The ‘Noles have also won 16 consecutive home games against non-conference opponents.
Florida State heads to the Long Beach Classic for a two-day tournament that begins on Friday, Dec. 20. FSU opens the tournament taking on Pacific at 10 p.m. ET/7 p.m. PT. The winner of the matchup faces the winner of the Richmond/Long Beach State game on Saturday at 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT, while the consolation game will take place at 6 p.m. ET/3 p.m. PT on Saturday.