TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (Seminoles.com) – The Florida State Women’s Basketball team bought into Savannah State’s frenetic style of play and used it to their advantage as it stormed past the Tigers, 97-51, on Friday evening at the Donald L. Tucker Center.
The Seminoles (11-1) ramped things up in the second half and fed off their transition game that became more sophisticated than helter skelter. Already breaking away with a 45-29 halftime lead, FSU utilized its strength by pushing the ball in the game’s final 20 minutes where they generated all 14 of its fast-break points. The result was five double-figure performances for the third time this season.
Freshman forward Shakayla Thomas came off the bench to record a season-high 19 points on 8-of-10 shooting, the most by a bench player this season. Thomas picked her spots against Savannah State’s overzealous defense, routinely getting to the basket and hitting pull-up jumpers while also generating three blocked shots. Thomas sparked an offensive unit that scored 90+ points for the fifth time this season. The most 90-point performances under FSU head coach Sue Semrau is six in the 2012-13 season.
“I think this is one of the games that I feel the best about in terms of the way we played,” Semrau said. “Obviously it was nice to go up and win at Purdue. It was nice to go up and win in that kind of situation and it’s always nice to beat your biggest rival. But this was a game that I felt like we got better. I thought we worked extremely well together and we did the little things that coaches always want that players sometimes balk at. And that’s just working hard and moving their feet, making the extra pass and I just was really proud of them.”
For the second time this season, two Seminoles recorded double-doubles as junior center Adut Bulgak and sophomore forward Ivey Slaughter once again owned the paint. Bulgak’s double-double came in the first half and she finished with 15 points and 14 rebounds. Slaughter once again did everything – aggressively rebound, draw charges and finish inside – which culminated with a 13-point, 11-rebound effort. She added three assists to tie her career high.
Generating offense early for the Noles was redshirt junior guard Morgan Jones, who once again facilitated very well. Jones drained four 3-pointers and finished with 14 points. Her long-distance shooting helped FSU hit seven 3-pointers, the sixth time the Noles have drilled seven or more shots from the outside.
Florida State shot 19-of-32 (59.4 percent) in the second half and finished shooting exactly 50 percent (35-of-70) from the floor. FSU has shot 50 percent or better in four games this season.
Sophomore guard Brittany Brown continued her string of good offensive showings with 13 points on 5-of-7 shooting.
Florida State dominated the game in bench scoring (35-9) and points off turnovers (25-4). For the sixth time this year the Noles connected on 30+ field goals, making 35 while tying its season-high with 21 assists. FSU held a 46-32 rebounding edge, winning the battle of the boards in every game this season.
Redshirt senior guard Maegan Conwright had another flawless game handling the ball, recording three assists and no turnovers. Conwright has not had a game this season where she has committed more turnovers than assists.
The Noles started the second half in blistering fashion, going on a 12-2 run that took just 4:38 as Brown, Slaughter, Thomas and Conwright got into the scoring act going into the first media timeout of the second frame. Conwright then charged hard on the break and found a cutting Emiah Bingley on the left side for a beautiful transition layup, giving FSU a 59-31 lead with 14:37 remaining.
Later, a layup by Brown pushed FSU’s second-half run to 32-8 and stretched its lead to 40 points at 77-37 with 6:36 remaining.
Despite some miscues in the first half, Florida State jumped out to a 45-29 halftime lead. Jones had a big-scoring first half with 14 points and four 3-point field goals. In the first game’s first 20 minutes, Jones moved from 16th on the FSU career 3-point field goals list to 14th, draining long-distance shots with her high-arcing jumper. She now has 77 career 3-point field goals at FSU.
The Seminoles shot 42 percent (16-of-38) in the first half, while Savannah State was held to 33 percent from the floor (10-of-26). FSU was aided by more solid inside play from Bulgak, who recorded her seventh double-double of the year in the first half with 10 points and 10 doubles.
While it looked like FSU would seize control of the game early, Savannah State used a 9-0 run to trail just 23-20 with eight minutes left in the first half. That’s when Jones hit a much-needed triple from the corner, and Bulgak added a mid-range jumper to get back to an eight-point lead. Jones later hit another 3-pointer to help FSU to a 35-25 lead, and Bingley added a nice pull-up shot from 15 feet to put FSU ahead 44-29 with 1:45 left.
FSU was aided by its rebounding on the offensive glass. The Noles entered the game averaging 18 offensive boards and ended the first half with 16. FSU finished with 20 offensive rebounds.
The Seminoles play one more game before the Christmas holiday as they battle Tulane on the road on Monday, Dec. 22, at 8 p.m. ET.
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