DENTON, Texas (Seminoles.com) – The Florida State Women’s Basketball team rode a hot-shooting first half en route to a 91-55 victory over Eastern Illinois on Friday evening at the Hospitality Hill Challenge hosted by North Texas at the Super Pit.
The Seminoles (3-0) got a meaningful basket in the final minute from freshman center Ama Degbeon on a great assist from redshirt junior guard Shakena Richardson. The inside bucket gave this year’s team the highest-scoring three-game start in school history, besting the 1988-89 team by two points with 286 total points. FSU is averaging 95.3 points through its quick start.
Once again, contributions were aplenty for the Noles, but the biggest game belonged to junior center Adut Bulgak. The Edmonton, Canada, native became FSU’s first 20-point scorer with 21 points, seven rebounds and four blocks on 8-of-10 shooting. Bulgak is shooting 23-of-30 through her first three games as she continues to back up her honor as the top JUCO player in the nation last year.
FSU shot 58.1 percent (36-of-62) from the field, including 9-of-18 from 3-point range. Redshirt junior Morgan Jones added a season-high 15 points on 4-of-5 shooting from long range, while redshirt senior point guard Maegan Conwright also had 15 points on 6-of-11 shooting in front of some fans from her nearby area of Arlington, Texas.
The Noles improve to 3-0 for the ninth time under 18-year head coach Sue Semrau, including the eighth time in the last 11 season. FSU has learned to play very well in regular-season tournament in recent years, compiling an 11-2 record in the format since the 2009-10 season.
“I was very pleased with our rebounding today,” Semrau said. “Adut (Bulgak) has been a huge force grabbing boards for us, and she’s really living up to her billing so far. Eastern Illinois shot well against us tonight, so we’re going to have to work on our transition defense, but we’ll keep growing.”
While FSU’s speed and athleticism disrupted the methodical Panthers (0-3), whom put up just 40 field-goal attempts, the real advantage for the Seminoles was on the lower block. FSU out-rebounded EIU, 40-15, grabbed 20 offensive rebounds and held a 28-2 advantage on the second-chance points. FSU also doubled EIU’s points in the paint at 44-22, and hold a season-long edge of 146-58 in the post.
Sophomore guard Brittany Brown provided quality play for FSU in the second half, scoring all eight of her points in the final 20 minutes. Sophomore center Kai James added nine points and seven rebounds, while Richardson led FSU once again with six assists and just two turnovers with three steals.
The Seminoles shot a blistering 67.9 percent (19-of-28) from the floor to take a 52-28 first-half lead. FSU was already coming off a 65-point second-half effort in its last game and continue its offensive prowess. Bulgak and Conwright led FSU with 13 points apiece, while FSU shot 8-of-10 from 3-point range to highlight its substantial scoring.
Eastern Illinois, however, did a decent job of breaking FSU’s pressure and shot 12-of-19 (63 percent) through the game’s first 20 minutes. The Noles out-rebounded EIU 17-5 in a half where not many shots were missed, and held a strong edge at 15-0 in second chance points. FSU also assisted on 12 of its first 19 first-half field goals made.
Overall, EIU shot 22-of-40 for 55 percent.
Jones lifted the Noles’ offense with two long-range jumpers as FSU led 10-9 with 15:24 remaining in the first half. Eastern Illinois showed its dedication to milking the clock and forced FSU to be patient defensively. Forward Sabina Oroszova scored four quick points for the Panthers. In the first half, EIU’s average possession time was 24 seconds while FSU’s was just 14 ticks off the clock.
Oroszova would lead the Panthers with 17 points.
Florida State continued to drain its 3-pointers, as Jones and Emiah Bingley combined to go 5-of-5 and help extend FSU’s lead to 38-18 with 7:14 left in the first half. FSU’s ball pressure forced the Panthers into mistakes and the Noles were able to capitalize with quick points on the other end. FSU used another patented run, this time a 15-0 spurt over 3:14 to quickly advance its lead.
The Noles wrap up the Hospitality Hill Challenge when they take on Massachusetts on Sunday, Nov. 23, at 1 p.m. ET/noon CT.
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