Dec. 2, 2004
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Undefeated Florida State needed about 13 seconds to find its form.
With 19:47 remaining in the first half, senior Roneeka Hodges took a pass from the inside and drained a 3-pointer that set the tone for the evening as the Seminoles (5-0) silenced cross-town rival Florida A&M (0-3), 85-66, Thursday evening at the Donald L. Tucker Center.
While a season-high five Seminoles pitched in double digit scoring performances, the real story of the night belonged to sophomore Alicia Gladden who recorded her second double-double of the season with an impressive 18 rebounds and 14 points.
Gladden’s 18 boards were the most recorded for FSU in a singe game since Levys Torees had 18 against Wake Forest during the 2001 season.
“First of all, I’d like to start out by giving Deb Clark and the FAMU team a lot of credit,” FSU head coach Sue Semrau said. “I thought they came out and just fought and fought. I know with seven freshmen, it’s often times difficult to get them in sync and boy they came out and shot the ball extremely well to start the game and once we finally started to keep them off the boards, maybe Alicia Gladden’s 18 rebounds helped a little bit, the game changed. Again, Roneeka (Hodges) getting off to a quick start was huge. I am just extremely pleased with our team. We still have a ways to go and some things we need to do better but this was a good win for us and a nice event for the community tonight.”
The combination of Gladden inside and Hodges outside energized the home fans quickly. A 16-2 run at the 11:20 mark in the first half gave the Seminoles a comfortable 17-point cushion at 39-22 and ended any suspense of a Rattler upset.
Hodges led both teams with 19 points, including three 3-pointers, and added eight rebounds as the Seminoles won their fifth straight.
The victory is the best start for the women’s basketball program in more than 20 years. The last time FSU started out a season 5-0 was in 1982-83 and the Tribe finished with 24-6 record that season.
Senior Linnea Liljestrand added 14 points, junior Holly Johnson had 12 points, and junior Hannah Linquist contributed 10 points for the Seminoles, who shot 51.5 percent in the first half and 47.8 percent for the game. Florida State has won by an average of 16.0 points during its perfect run and has never trailed in the last three games. After tying the score up 5-all early on, the Seminoles owned the lead the entire night.
The inside-outside attack was illustrated by the fact that only three of Florida State’s field goals weren’t either in the paint or a 3-pointer which made it difficult on the Rattlers to defend.
“We shot the ball well,” Semrau said. “We penetrated and kicked and those were the good looks we got when we reversed the basketball. We probably got a little bit greedy and shot 14 threes in the first half and that’s really not our game, but we took some good shots and had some good open looks and we’re fortunate to knock them in.”
Elana Greene scored 12 points for the Rattlers, who have started the season 0-3. Greene added 10 rebounds and Quidara Russell tallied 10 points, respectively.
“Overall, I thought our girls gave a good effort,” FAMU head coach Debra Clark said. “We had some mistakes that cost us. On defense, we were late rotating and gave up a few too many rebounds and a tribute to Florida State, they shot the ball extremely well the first half and we were playing catch up the entire night.”
The Tribe’s run made the lead 46-33 at halftime. It took 2 ½ minutes for either team to score a basket in the second half when a lay-up by Hodges at the 17:50 mark gave FSU a 48-33 lead. The Seminoles widened the gap by as much as 23 points late at 75-52 and the Rattlers never got closer than 13 points (20:00) in the final period.
Offensively, the Seminoles excelled early and capitalized 18 points off of Florida A&M’s 11 first half turnovers. FSU opened the game by using an inside-outside attack that made way for a stream of 3-pointers from three different Seminoles.
Gladden finished with three steals and was a perfect 4-for-4 from the free throw line to round out a spectacular evening for the 5-foot-7 guard. Liljestrand and Johnson poured in five assists each, respectively.
The Seminoles will be back in action on Sunday as they travel to New Orleans for a 3:00 p.m. tip-off.