TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (Seminoles.com) – The Florida State Women’s Basketball team officially begins its 2014-15 season when it hosts UAB on Friday, Nov. 14, at 7 p.m. at the renovated Donald L. Tucker Center.
The first contest of the year will be video streamed on ESPN3.com as well as through the WatchESPN app. Play-by-play man Jonathan Schillace and color analyst Melissa Bruner will be on the call. Fans can also listen to the game on FSU’s new partner station WQTL-106.1 FM, with Brad Law and Bob Thomas calling the action. All FSU home games can also be heard for free by downloading the Seminole Gameday app.
Friday night’s season opener against the Blazers features several appealing promotions. There will be $1 hot dogs and Coca-Cola soft drinks at the concessions for all students who enter the game through the North entrance. Florida State University has also partnered with the United Way for the “Drive for 3K” initiative – if Friday’s attendance surpasses 3,000 fans, FSU will donate $1 for each fan in attendance to the United Way.
Finally, Friday’s opener is $2 tip-off with the Noles, with all tickets costing just $2 for fans.
“There is a lot to be excited for this season,” FSU head coach Sue Semrau said. “Tomorrow is a great incentive for our fans to come out and watch our team play in what has become a great-looking facility. We want to have fun and play fast this year on the court, but we’re also committed to making sure our fans enjoy themselves as spectators. There are some great promotions for Friday’s opener and we hope to see our fans come out and show their support.”
FSU is tied with UAB 5-5 all-time, winning the last five matchups while the Blazers won the first five meetings. The last time FSU played UAB in a season opener was on Nov. 12, 2006, when the Noles earned a 93-77 victory. It was a special night for former forward Jacinta Monroe, who recorded 23 points and 21 rebounds in a sterling freshman debut.
The Noles have won their past 20 season openers dating back to the 1994-95 season. Semrau is 17-0 in season openers, and FSU is 33-9 all-time in its first game of the season. The average scoring margin for Florida State in season-openers under Semrau is +27.8. Ten of her 17 season-openers have been won by 20 points or more.
FSU freshman forward Shakayla Thomas (Sylacauga, Ala.) makes her Seminole debut against one of her state schools in UAB (University of Alabama at Birmingham). Thomas’ last days of her decorated Sylacauga High School career were spent in Birmingham when she led her team to the Alabama High School Athletic Association 5A state championship game.
Friday night’s season opener marks the first regular-season basketball game that will be played in the renovated Donald L. Tucker Center. During the offseason, the home of FSU Men’s and Women’s Basketball underwent a near $17 million transformation that includes new seats, a high definition center-hung jumbotron, four LED scoreboard panels, multiple ribbon boards and more.
Florida State currently holds a 16-game win streak against non-conference opponents at home, going 7-0 last year. The Noles look to add to that streak against the Conference USA, which it holds a 33-32 all-time record against. FSU has won its past 13 games against the conference, last losing on Nov. 23, 1998, against FIU.
The only measuring stick FSU has had in the pre-season was an 89-27 win over Faulkner on Nov. 9. FSU had 28 fast-break points in the exhibition, which is more than it had in any game last season. Junior center Adut Bulgak posted 15 points and 16 boards, while redshirt senior guard Maegan Conwright added 14 points on 5-of-8 shooting with four assists and just one turnover.
FSU will begin its new “pre-season” Friday night, as it faces a slate of non-conference games before opening up ACC play at Notre Dame on Jan. 2. Over the last two years, FSU has gone 22-2 in pre-season play, including 12-1 last year.
Head coach Randy Norton enters his second season at the helm of the UAB women’s basketball program. Last season, Norton led UAB to a 16-15 finish overall and 7-9 in Conference USA play.
UAB returns seven letterwinners for the 2014-15 season, including six juniors that saw a lot of playing time as sophomores. Chelsee Black moved into the starting point guard role as a sophomore and led UAB with 87.5 percent shooting from the free throw line. Kayla Anderson will return as a strong presence in the paint after
leading UAB with a school record 56 blocks last season.
The Blazers finished with a winning record for the fifth-straight season last year, which sets a school record for consecutive seasons with a winning record.
Following Friday’s matchup, FSU will return to the Tucker Center floor on Tuesday, Nov. 18, at a special start time of 11 a.m. against Bethune-Cookman. The game is “Field Trip Day,” with free admission for all elementary schools that participate in the promotion.