Feb. 7, 2008
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – For the first 35 minutes of its Atlantic Coast Conference game with NC State, the Florida State women’s basketball team couldn’t establish anything more than a three-point lead. Then in the last five minutes the Seminoles jumped out to a nine-point advantage it would hold on to the rest of the way for the 57-54 victory over the Wolfpack on Thursday (February 7) at the Donald L. Tucker Center.
Florida State snapped its two game winning streak as it improved to 15-8 overall and 5-3 in the ACC. The win also stopped a three-game slide against NC State, who dropped to 14-9, 2-6 in the league.
“This was a huge win for our team,” FSU head coach Sue Semrau said. “It was a huge team effort and a great win for us. We were as tight as tight could be in the first half, everybody knew how big this game was for us. For us to step up to the line with confidence, especially with the way we shot in the first half, was huge.”
Leading all scorers with 17 points was guard Tanae Davis-Cain (Dawson, Ga.) who got 15 of her points in the second half. Next up was guard Shante Williams (Jacksonville, Fla.) with 10 points while Mara Freshour (Nashville, Ind.) added nine. Williams also had four steals while Freshour was one of two players with two assists.
Every player on the team had at least one rebound, led by rookie Christian Hunnicutt (Jonesboro, Ga.) with a career-high seven. Freshour and forward Jacinta Monroe (Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.) grabbed six each. Monroe was strong on the defensive end of the floor, blocking six shots.
“The effort our team had on (Khadijah) Whittington with very little prep time to put some new things in, I thought they did a fantastic job,” Semrau added. `I have to complement Cayla Moore and Jacinta Monroe for taking away her strength. She loves to go over that right shoulder. To always be there and not have any lack of focus was really big.”
Both teams played good defense as FSU held a slight 35 percent (21-of-60) to 31.1 percent (19-of-61) shooting from the floor. Second-half free throw shooting was a determining factor as FSU was 10-for-10 at the stripe as part of its 13-of-19 (68.4 percent). Florida State forced 21 NC State turnovers, which it converted to 20 points. FSU also had a 32-to-18 advantage in points in the paint. NCSU out-rebounded the Seminoles 47-40.
Coming out of the break, the two teams battled back and fourth with six ties in the first 12 minutes as neither team could get control of the game. Tied at 38-38 with 8:23 remaining, the Seminoles went on an 11-2 run to capture a 49-40 lead on a Cayla Moore (Albany, Ga.) lay-up with 3:40 remaining. Nine of the 11 points in the run came from Davis-Cain and Moore.
Over the next two minutes NC State sliced the lead to three with an 8-2 run. The visitors got the margin down to one (53-52) with 37 seconds left, then Freshour knocked down a pair of free throws to extend the lead to 55-52. On NC State’s ensuing possession, Niktta Gartrell appeared to have an open shot at a three-pointer that would have tied the game when Hunnicutt swooped in and blocked the shot. The Wolfpack missed two shots before Hunnicutt came up with a rebound and sealed the victory with a pair of free throws.
Against the conference’s top defensive team – NC State came into the game giving up an ACC-low 55.8 points per game the Seminoles got off to a slow start offensively. A jumper and three pointer by Courtney Ward (Montgomery, Ala.) accounted for all but one of FSU’s points for the first eight minutes. To the Seminoles’ credit, they played equally as good a defense and limited NC State two just 10 points in the opening 12 minutes.
Florida State got its first lead since the first minute of the game on a jumper by Williams at the 5:19 mark to stake FSU to a 15-13 advantage. The Seminoles would hold on to the lead for the next two minutes until NC State finished the half on a 9-2 run to take a 22-20 advantage into locker room.
The only Seminole to make more than one basket – and one of only three players in the game – was Williams with four points. Monroe had a great half on the defensive end of the court, grabbing five defensive rebounds – as part of her six total – to go along with three blocked shots. Williams was also good on defense, nabbing a trio of steals.
Florida State is back on the floor Sunday (Feb. 10) when it travels to Virginia for a 2 p.m. tip. The game can be heard on 1270 AM and Seminoles.com as well as see on ACC Select.