Jan. 15, 2012
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (Seminoles.com) – Down by 19 points a minute into the second half, the Florida State women’s basketball team could’ve folded against No. 13/11 Miami on Sunday at the Donald L. Tucker Center.
Instead, led by sophomore forward Natasha Howard (22 points, career-best 17 rebounds), the Seminoles fought their way back to tie the game with 37 seconds left, before the Hurricanes ultimately escaped with a 60-57 victory.
Miami junior guard Stefanie Yderstrom nailed a game-winning corner three to break the tie with 17 seconds remaining in the game.
Despite the loss, Florida State head coach Sue Semrau was proud of her squad, who went toe-to-toe with two of the nation’s top teams in a three-day span this weekend. FSU narrowly fell to No. 7/6 Duke on Friday night in Durham, N.C.
“What a game,” Semrau said. “I love the fight of our team. I hope that after this we play more grown up in the first half. You certainly can’t fault the adjustments these guys made in the second half. Natasha was unbelievable. Seventeen rebounds hasn’t been done against a top-ranked team in years here. She was absolutely tremendous as well as a lot of the players on the team.”
Florida State found itself down 41-22 when Miami senior guard and reigning ACC Player of the Year Shenise Johnson (24 points) buried a trey with 18:59 remaining in the game.
The Seminoles chipped away at the lead until clamping down defensively the final eight minutes of the game.
After Johnson made a fastbreak layup with 8:33 left to make the score 55-42, the Hurricanes missed their next 10 field goal attempts. Miami did not make another basket until Yderstrom’s game-winner – a span of 8:16.
Howard, a 6-3 combo forward, was the catalyst. She tallied her sixth double-double of the season and became the third Seminole to grab 17 rebounds against a Top 25 opponent in the last 20 years. Jacinta Monroe accomplished the feat versus No. 15 North Carolina on Feb. 1, 2010 and Ursula Woods tallied 18 boards versus No. 3 Maryland on Jan. 12, 1993.
“We came out with energy and passion and we knew we could come out in the second half and just dominate Miami,” Howard said. “We fought until the end and we didn’t give up at all, that’s the best thing – we didn’t give up at the end.”
Howard scored eight points in FSU’s 15-2 down the stretch that ended when senior post Cierra Bravard split a pair of free throws, making the second, to tie the game at 57-57 with 37 second left.
After Yderstrom’s three, FSU had two looks at the rim. Junior wing Chasity Clayton’s jumper with six seconds left was short, but Rodriguez snagged the rebound and stepped back for a trey attempt with three seconds left. Williams was there to just barely block the shot and secure the Miami victory.
FSU shot 54.5 percent in the second half after shooting just 34.5 percent in the first half and finding itself down, 35-20, at the break.
Johnson, who surpassed the 2,000-point plateau in the game, sparked a game-breaking 13-4 Miami run with a three-pointer 11 minutes into the first half. She added two other baskets, including a jumper that capped the spurt and gave the Hurricanes a commanding 30-16 lead with 4:44 left in the first half.
Bravard finished with 10 points and eight boards, while Clayton scored 12.
Miami’s Morgan Stroman and Williams each finished with 11.
FSU outrebounded Miami, 39-32, and held the high-powered Hurricanes’ No. 5 ranked offense to just 27.2 percent shooting in the second half.
The Seminoles return to action at Boston College at 7 p.m. on Thursday before returning to the Donald L. Tucker Center to host Georgia Tech at 2 p.m. on Sunday.
For more information on Florida State women’s basketball, follow the Seminoles on Twitter at: @FSU_WBasketball.