Feb. 13, 2009
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — If Florida State’s not the hottest team in the country, they’re close to it.
Freshman Cierra Bravard had 16 points and 10 rebounds Friday night, leading the 14th-ranked Seminoles to their 12th win in 13 games with a 77-70 victory over No. 8 North Carolina 77-70 that gave coach Sue Semrau’s her 200th victory.
The Seminoles have defeated five ranked teams, including three in the Top 10, since Jan. 3, losing just once since dropping a 73-62 game to top-ranked UConn on Dec. 21.
And they did it this time with leading scorer Jacinta Monroe getting only five points.
“Our preseason schedule prepared us for this,” Semrau said. “We’re not finished yet. We’ve got a lot of work to do.”
But Bravard, who was playing high school ball in Ohio at this time a year ago, shook off some early butterflies and dominated inside despite being in foul trouble most of the night.
“It took me awhile to get my confidence,” Bravard said. “Coming to college and playing this good a team in this conference, it’s different, but I think I’m finally starting to get into my groove.”
One of three Seminoles to foul out, Bravard put up her double double in just 20 minutes on the court.
Florida State (21-5, 9-1 Atlantic Coast Conference) built a 15-point lead in the first half and led by as many as 17 late in the game, defeating the Tar Heels for the first time in four years and just the second time in this decade.
“We made them play our game tonight and that made them uncomfortable,” Florida State’s Mara Freshour said. “We got back and played our pressure defense. They’re not used to doing that very often.”
North Carolina (20-4, 6-3) dropped two games behind the Seminoles, who remain alone in first place in the ACC. Rashanda McCants 18 points and 13 rebounds, Cetera DeGraffenreid added 16 points and Jessica Breland 11 for the Tar Heels, who shot just 32 percent.
The Seminoles led 72-55 with 5:42 left, but didn’t score another field goal and poor free throw shooting allowed the Tar Heels to whittle the lead down.
“Things have fallen into place for them,” North Carolina coach Sylvia Hatchell said. “They’ve got leadership, they’ve got experience. They were much, much more physical and intense.”
Florida State had a 32-24 lead after a sloppy first half when the two teams combined for 27 turnovers and shot poorly. The Seminoles led despite shooting just 26.3 percent from the floor, but North Carolina made only 24.1 percent of its shots.
The Seminoles used an 25-5 run midway through the first half to build a 28-13 lead with 7:20 left in the half.
Bravard, who had her second double-double, had eight points and eight rebounds in the opening half. She had 13 points and 12 rebounds during a win at Northern Colorado on Dec. 18.
Monroe, Florida State’s leading scorer, didn’t get her first basket until 16:51 left in the game and finished with just five points.
Friday’s crowd of 6,309 fans nearly doubled the previous record to watch a Florida State women’s game.
NOTABLE GAME QUOTES:
“Florida State played harder than we did. They were much more physical, more intense, and all the other coaches in the ACC were warning me about how physical they were. I thought that really made a difference … they are a really good team.” -North Carolina head coach Sylvia Hatchell
“They are a great team. “For anybody out there who has watched them, they’re underrated. They gave it their best shot and they won.” -North Carolina leading scorer Rashanda McCants
“We are here for each other. If no one else believes in us we know what we have here and we know we have the chance to do something special.” -Florida State guard Angel Gray
“It was definitely a big-time game for us but we weren’t surprised when we won. It was something that we knew we could do. But (fellow senior) Tanae (Davis-Cain) and I are excited because we had never taken the Tar Heels down before so it’s a good night.” -Florida State guard Mara Freshour
GRAY’S UNLIKLELY 3-POINTER PUTS FSU ON TOP FOR GOOD
Entering Friday night’s game, FSU junior guard Angel Gray had made one 3-pointer all season – a long-range jumpshot she hit way back in the Seminoles’ first game of the season, a win over Florida Gulf Coast. Well, Gray hit her second triple of the year in the contest against North Carolina to give the Seminoles a 9-8 lead at the game’s 15:19 mark – a lead that the Seminoles would never once relinquish in the upset victory as the Tar Heels never came any closer than that one-point deficit.
BRAVARD’S THIRD-BEST OFFENSIVE OUTING
True freshman Cierra Bravard scored 16 points Friday night, which is the third-highest scoring output in her young career. Bravard boasts a career high of 25 points that she scored against College of Charleston and she scored 17 points in the win over Clemson last month.
SECOND DOUBLE-DOUBLE OF HER CAREER, TOO
Cierra Bravard’s 16-point, 10-rebound performance marked the second time she has accrued a double-double in her career. The Sandusky, Ohio native posted 13 points and 12 rebounds in the win over Northern Colorado in the Caribbean Classic in Cancun, Mexico in December.
MORE ON GRAY’S CAREER HIGH
Angel Gray is known for her defense but against North Carolina she put it together on the offensive end as well. Not only was her 14 points a new career high but it also marked the first time in 15 games that the Stone Mountain, Ga. native scored in double figures.
BUMPS, BRUISES, STITCHES – SO WHAT?
Senior guard Mara Freshour wasn’t about to let a sore left side and stitched-up right side slow her down against North Carolina. FSU’s senior leader started Friday’s game nursing a bruised left side after crashing to the hardwood late in the team’s victory over Miami. Not only that, but Freshour had to play the game with stitches just above her right after she caught an elbow in practice on Thursday. So, how did the Nashville, Ind. native respond? She went out and played a team-high 34 minutes, scored 15 points, grabbed five rebounds, dished out three assists, and recorded two steals – that’s how.
MONROE NOW WITHIN ONE BLOCK OF SCHOOL RECORD
Junior forward Jacinta Monroe wasn’t her normal dominating self as she was battling with a very sore shoulder against the Tar Heels, but that doesn’t mean she didn’t leave her mark. FSU’s leading scorer, rebounder and shot-blocker, swatted two UNC shots Friday night and by doing so moved to within one of tying the all-time record for blocked shots in a career. Monroe now has 208 blocks in her three-year career and former Seminole Brooke Wycoff’s record of 209 is well within reach.
ODDS AND ENDS…
…FSU outrebounded UNC and is now 18-2 in games where the team achieves more boards than its opponent.
…Four Seminoles scored in double figures in a game for the 12th time this season and FSU is 9-3 in those games.
…Florida State held North Carolina to just 32.3 percent shooting as the Seminoles are now 14-0 in games where they hold their opponent to under 40 percent shooting.
…FSU moved to 17-1 overall in games where the team leads at halftime after the Seminoles boasted a 32-24 lead at intermission.