November 23, 2014 - by

Staunch Defensive Effort Lifts Noles over UMass

DENTON, Texas (Seminoles.com) – Another performance of hard-nosed defensive pressure helped the Florida State Women’s Basketball team to a 73-47 victory over Massachusetts on Sunday afternoon at the Hospitality Hill Challenge on the campus of North Texas at the Super Pit.

While the Seminoles (4-0) have gotten off to one of their best offensive starts in school history, the defensive aspect has been overlooked and was on full display today. Heavy ball pressure forced the Minutewomen (2-3) to play at a quicker pace than desired, and FSU’s edge on the offensive glass was too much for UMass inside. The Noles also generated 14 steals and used 25 points off turnovers to their advantage.

The exceptional D once again created several chances for the offense, with a plethora of scoring distribution highlighting the scoring side of the ball. Nine Seminoles got into the scoring column, led by junior center Adut Bulgak’s fourth double-figure scoring game with 14 points. FSU had four double-figure scorers on Sunday, including redshirt junior guard Morgan Jones (11 points), sophomore guard Brittany Brown (11 points) and redshirt senior guard Maegan Conwright (10 points).

Jones stood out with her third career double-double, grabbing 10 rebounds including nine in the first half. Conwright once again handled the ball exceptionally with three assists and just one turnover, and she finished 2-of-3 on 3-pointers to mark multiple 3-point field goals in all three of her games this season.

“I thought Morgan Jones played very unselfish basketball, and she was still able to get a double-double,” FSU head coach Sue Semrau said. “I thought we could have done a better job in the first half of reversing the ball, but we got better in the second half. We have a tough matchup coming up with Washington in Cancun and we’ll have to be prepared.”

FSU didn’t have its offensive proficiency it showed in its first three games, but managed to shoot 26-of-65 (40 percent) from the field and 5-of-13 from long range. It relied more on its defense Sunday, forcing 22 turnovers.

With a 34-19 first-half lead, FSU came out quickly again in the second half with a mid-range jumper from Ivey Slaughter, a 3-pointer for Conwright and then a second-chance basket for Bulgak to take a 43-22 at the first media timeout of the second half.

The Noles began building an offensive rhythm when they extended their lead to 54-31 with 11:48 left, connecting on their last three field-goal attempts. Brown nailed her second 3-pointer of the day from the wing, followed by a nice floater by Emiah Bingley and capped with a layup from Conwright to create the 23-point lead.

FSU got off to another fast start from the opening tip, as Brown nailed her first 3-pointer of the season to start the scoring, then had a beautiful drive down the center of the lane to put the Noles ahead 5-0. Conwright then took a pass from Bulgak and went on a fastbreak layup to give FSU an 8-0 advantage, and it held a 10-2 lead through the first media timeout at 16:19.

The Noles forced the Minutewomen into some helter-skelter play and took a 17-10 lead with 11:14 remaining. FSU forced seven turnovers and all five starters were in the scoring column when Bulgak had an inside basket with 13:45 left to give FSU a 15-6 lead.

FSU showed excellent ball reversal to help Jones line up for her first three-point make of the day, putting the Noles ahead 21-10 with 8:56 remaining in the first half. FSU’s defense forced UMass to make one of its previous five shots prior to the media timeout.

Conwright added FSU’s second long-range jumper of the game to put FSU ahead 29-15 with 3:52 left in the first half. The Noles were able to keep possessions alive with good offensive rebounding, getting extra chances on offense and holding an 11-2 advantage on the offensive glass.

Bulgak generated a big three-point play on a nice assist from Conwright to give FSU a 32-16 advantage. Shakena Richardson then added two free throws on a nice drive to the basket as the Noles held a 34-19 advantage at halftime. Jones recorded seven points and was active with nine rebounds, while Brown added seven points and continued her stellar defensive play.

FSU improves to 15-4 all-time against Atlantic-10 opponents and has started 4-0 for the third consecutive season.

Florida State travels to Cancun, Mexico, for the Cancun Challenge during Thanksgiving Week. The Noles open up the challenge playing Pac-12 opponent Washington on Thanksgiving Day at 3:30 p.m. ET/2:30 p.m. CT at the Hard Rock Hotel Riviera Maya. FSU follows with a Friday matchup against Furman at 1 p.m. ET, and finishes on Saturday against Hartford at 3:30 p.m. ET.

For all information on Florida State Women’s Basketball, be sure to head to our Facebook (Facebook.com/FSUWomensBasketball), Twitter (@FSU_WBasketball) and Instagram (FSU_WomensBasketball) sites.

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