Jan. 3, 2008
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. –
For more than nine months, the Florida State women’s basketball team has had January 3 circled on its calendar. The Seminoles were looking to get back at LSU for knocking it out of the 2007 NCAA Tournament, but they’ll have to wait a bit longer for redemption as the No. 11 Tigers held off FSU’s second-half run for the 73-61 victory on Thursday (January 3).
The loss dropped Florida State to 10-5 on the year with four of the five losses coming to ranked teams. The Seminoles are still looking for their first victory over a ranked team in the regular season since February 26, 2006, when they beat No. 17 Boston College. LSU improved to 11-3.
“That’s a very good basketball team, especially with Sylvia Fowles in the middle,” FSU head coach Sue Semrau said. “She really changes the game in the middle. We learned a lot tonight. I thought we got great looks at the basket, we just didn’t knock it down, much like the NCAA Tournament game against them last year.”
Posting her first 20-point game of the year was senior Shante Williams (Jacksonville, Fla.) with 20 points, including 8-of-8 at the free throw line. She tied Mara Freshour (Nashville, Ind.) for the team lead at three assists. Next up in the scoring column was rookie guard Antionette Howard (Snellville, Ga.) at 11 points. Forward Cayla Moore (Albany, Ga.) just missed posting 10 rebounds with a game-high nine boards.
“I love that kid,” Semrau said of Williams. “She fights, she guts, she’s grown so much as a player. I think she probably wanted that game more than anybody. It’s her senior year and having the opportunity on her home court, a lot of the folks from Jacksonville had come over, and she really rose to the occasion.”
Even though it shot dramatically better in the second half, FSU only hit 35.7 percent (20-of-56) from the floor and 28.6 percent (4-of-14) from three point range. The Seminoles continued their strong shooting at the free throw line with a rate of 77.3 percent (17-of-22). LSU was just the opposite, nailing 54 percent (27-of-50) on the floor and 53.3 percent (8-of-15) from three point-range – both season-highs for FSU opponents – but 50 percent (11-of-22) at the line.
Florida State was better than the Tigers on the boards, holding a 36-to-31 advantage, including 13 offensive boards, which it converted to 11 second-chance points. Both teams turned the ball over 16 times, but LSU held a 25-to-17 advantage in points off turnovers.
The Seminole dug themselves a hole early as LSU started the game on an 8-0 run. Five-straight free throws by Williams and Courtney Ward (Montgomery, Ala.) cut the deficit to three (5-8), but the Tigers ran off six more points to bump the margin to nine (5-14).
The lead grew to as many as 16 on a pair of occasions with the latest coming at 6:39 (15-31). Florida State worked to trim the lead and got it down to 10 (22-32) on a Williams’ jumper at the 3:12 mark. Williams scored six of FSU’s last 11 points, including a jumper with four seconds remaining to cut the LSU lead to 26-38 at the half.
Florida State out-rebounded the Tigers 21-to-19, including eight offensive boards. LSU’s stingy defense limited the Seminoles to just 26.7 percent shooting (8-of-30) in the first half and just 1-of-7 behind the arc. On the flipside, the Tigers hit 50 percent (14-of-28) and were even better behind the three-point line at 54.5 percent (6-of-11). The visitors forced FSU into eight turnovers, including six steals, and turned them into 14 points. FSU mustered just four points off LSU’s eight turnovers.
Out of the break the Seminoles continued their improved play as they went on an 11-5 run to cut the lead to four points (43-39) at the 14:42 mark on a jumper by Ward. Six different players contributed to the fast second-half start. A pair of Williams free throws got the margin back to four (41-45) with 12:35 remaining, but that’s as close as FSU would get. The Seminoles had two chances to get it to a one-possession game, but LSU went on an 9-2 run to push the margin back to 11 (43-54). FSU would only get as close as 10 the rest of the game.
Florida State opens conference play on Sunday (January 6) when it plays host to Virginia Tech in a 2 p.m. start. The game can be heard 100.7 FM and Seminoles.com. It can also be seen on Fox Sports Net Florida.