Feb. 28, 2008
She’s earned the nickname “Big Game Te” and Thursday night (February 28) she lived up to the moniker. Senior Shante Williams drove the lane and hit a jumper with 6.25 seconds remaining to give the Florida State women’s basketball team a 50-49 decision over Miami at the Donald L Tucker Center.
Florida State grabbed a half game lead over idle Georgia Tech in the race for the fifth seed in the ACC Tournament as it improved to 7-6 in the conference and 17-11 overall. Miami dropped its fifth game in a row to fall to 9-19 overall, 2-11 in the league.
A game after crossing the 1,000-point barrier, Williams (Jacksonville, Fla.) put the Seminoles on her back to keep their NCAA Tournament hopes alive as she scored half of Florida State’s 30 second-half points. She was the only Seminole double figures with a game-high 17.
Guard Tanae-Davis-Cain (Dawson, Ga.) had her double-figure scoring streak stopped at 14 games as she came up a point short at nine. She was one of four Seminoles to produce a trio of steals. Florida State’s lackluster shooting allowed it to go to the boards – FSU out-rebounded Miami 43-to- 39 including 22 offensive boards. Mara Freshour (Nashville, Ind.) led the way with nine rebounds – seven on the offensive glass – while Christian Hunnicutt (Jonesboro, Ga.) nabbed a career-high eight.
Turnovers and poor shooting were the difference in the game. The Seminoles forced Miami into 16 miscues in the second half, 25 for the game, which it converted into 22 of its 30 points. FSU committed 23 turnovers, but only allowed Miami to get 14 points off them. Neither team shot above 40 percent with the Hurricanes getting the edge 37.9 percent (25-of-58) to 30.5 percent (18-of-59). The poor shooting was contagious across the board as FSU shot 23.5 percent (4-of-17) from three-point range and 52.6 percent (10-of-19) at the line while Miami was 2-of-19 behind the arc (10.5 percent) and 3-of-7 (42.9 percent) at the stripe.
Things looked bleak for the Seminoles at the start of the second half as they only made two baskets in the first six minutes and found themselves down 11, 27-38, with 13:47 left to play. From there Florida State put the clamps on defensively and outscored the Hurricanes 23-11 the rest of the way. Four different players scored during a 9-0 run with a pair of Freshour free throws pulling FSU to with in two, 36-38.
The Hurricanes would respond and get the margin back up to five, 38-43, with 7:13 remaining, but they would fail to score for the next five minutes and that allowed Florida State to gain the lead. Williams alternated baskets between free throws by Alysha Harvin (Dania, Fla.) and Freshour with her jumper at the 3:33 mark putting the Seminoles ahead, 48-43.
Charmaine Clark hit a three-pointer then Damisha Moore got a lay-up off a steal then put back an offensive rebound to give Miami a 49-48 lead with 1:29 to play. FSU had two chances to take the lead, but turned the ball over each time. Forced to foul, Florida State sent Clark to the line for a one-and-one and she missed the first attempt. Miami is ranked 315th out of 325 Division I schools in free throw shooting. Davis-Cain grabbed the rebound and got it to Williams for the eventual game-winner. Maurita Reid’s desperation shot missed the mark at the buzzer.
Neither team could get the offense going in the early part of the game. Through the first 10 minutes of the opening half, the Seminoles had as many turnovers (eight) as they did points, but they played strong enough defense to only be down by two. A lay-up by Cayla Moore (Albany, Ga.) pulled FSU within one, 15-16, at the 7:42 mark, but it would be another three minutes before it scored again.
That drought allowed Miami to build an eight point lead, 15-23, before a pair of Williams’ free throws at the 4:23 mark stopped the dry spell. Each team would only make one basket the rest of the half with a Courtney Ward (Montgomery, Ala.) three-pointer pulling FSU to within 20-25 going into the locker room.
Both teams struggled to find the bottom of the basket with Miami holding a 37.9 percent (11-of-29) to 23.3 percent (7-of-30). Almost half of FSU shots were from behind the arc, but it hit just 27.3 percent (3-of-11). The cavalcade of missed shots allowed the Seminoles hold a 24-to-17 rebounding advantage, include 11 offensive boards. Florida State had nearly double the amount of turnovers in the first half (13) as it did the entire Maryland contest (seven).
Tying for the first half team-high was Davis-Cain and Hunnicutt with five each while the rookie Hunnicutt pulled in seven boards and had two steals. Williams handed out two assists.
Florida State rounds out the regular season on Saturday (March 1) when it plays host to Clemson in a 7 p.m. contest. Prior to the game, the Seminoles will honor senior Shante Williams. The game can be heard on 1270 AM, XM Channel 191 and Seminoles.com. It can also be seen on ACC Select.