Dec. 18, 2004
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Ganiyat Adeduntan made a jumper in the lane with 34 seconds to play for the lead, and Roneeka Hodges added a free throw with 13 seconds remaining as Florida State escaped with a thrilling 72-70 victory Saturday afternoon over UT-Arlington at the Donald L. Tucker Center.
“I loved this game,” said Seminole head coach Sue Semrau, “this is what we play for. Even at halftime, it was a great basketball game and we wanted it to come down to an opportunity to win the game. I loved our mental presence and our team showed a lot of poise. That was a tough team and we knew they’d be good. I’m extremely proud of our team and what they did today.”
The Seminoles rolled to their eight straight win and kept their perfect season intact, while the Lady Mavs dropped to an even 4-4 on the season. Before tonight, the Seminoles had been outscoring opponents by an average 13.0 points.
Hodges, who registered a career-high 33 points, played perhaps the best offensive game of her life as she single-handily took over the second half and scored 21 of FSU’s 32 points.
“I felt all along since she came last year,” commented a smiling Semrau, “that she could dominate in this country and not just in the ACC. I think the world is about to see that when we get into conference play. The heart, soul, and fight she has is a special thing and very infectious.”
Hodges’ 33 points are the most scored by a Seminole since the 1998 season when Latavia Coleman registered 38 against North Carolina.
From the start, Florida State was battle-tested by the outside play of two UTA bench players, Tabitha Wesley and Terra Wallace. The pair combined for 46 points, including nine 3-pointers, and gave the Lady Mavs as much as a nine-point advantage with 7:52 remaining.
However, the game was far from over.
After a media timeout with 7:23 left on the clock, the Seminoles made a surge and went on a 13-4 run to close the gap to a one-point UTA advantage, 71-70. Hodges play during the run, which lasted less than five minutes, was purely spectacular as she tallied 7 of the team’s 13 points.
“We kept trading baskets the entire game,” said Hodges, “and we knew we had to stop them in order to catch up. We had to clamp down on the defensive end and try to get the victory.”
With 1:45 remaining, UTA’s Wesley committed an offensive foul that gave Florida State the ball. Hodges attempted a 3-pointer that rolled off the rim and allowed the Lady Mavs to gain possession with 1:17 left before Adeduntan came up with arguably the biggest play of the game.
With :45 seconds on the clock, Wallace was picked off by Adeduntan at the top of the arc and Semrau called timeout to set up the game winning play, that came off a LaQuinta Neely dish to Adeduntan down low.
“The greatest thing wasn’t the play, but the players making the play,” said Semrau. “It was not exactly what we were looking for but the players read the defense and made a great pass. Ganiyat (Adeduntan) did a great job of being poised, focused, and finishing the basket.”
The Seminoles, who have yet to trail at halftime, led 40-37 at the break and shot 68.2 percent. Florida State finished the day shooting 56 percent.
Hodges’ career game might have been credited to the fact that her twin sister and Los Angeles Sparks standout, Doneeka Hodges, cheered her on from the stands. Doneeka Hodges had just returned from playing overseas and was in Tallahassee to visit her twin before the Seminoles boarded a plane to travel to Puerto Rico.
“My sister and I have a special bond,” said Hodges, “so I guess you can say I had some added motivation today.”
Florida State will open the San Juan Shootout in San Juan, Puerto Rico, Monday, December 20, versus Fordham. Tip-off is set for 4:30 p.m.