CANCUN, Mexico (Seminoles.com) – The Florida State Women’s Basketball team relied on its gritty defense to earn a 69-59 victory over Hartford on Saturday afternoon in its final game of the Cancun Challenge at the Hard Rock Riviera Maya Hotel.
The Seminoles (6-1) found it tough to break away from a relentless Hawks (3-4) team, but used a critical 12-0 run later in the second half to eventually get a manageable lead. FSU’s 10-point win gives it double-digit victories in all six wins this season.
FSU shot 24-of-55 (43.6 percent) from the field, while Hartford made 45.5 percent from the floor. The Noles had more assists (17) than turnovers (14) for the fourth time this season.
Junior center Adut Bulgak finished with 16 points and seven rebounds, while redshirt senior Maegan Conwright added 12 points. Both players were named to the Cancun Challenge All-Tournament Team. Sophomore Ivey Slaughter added 12 points while freshman Shakayla Thomas came off the bench and recorded 10 points.
FSU was in some early trouble in the second half, getting a basket from Slaughter underneath but then allowing a four-point play and a 3-pointer on the next possession to force a timeout leading 36-35. Morgan Jones quelled the Hartford run with a pull-up jumper and FSU went into the next media timeout leading 38-37 with 15:57 remaining.
Florida State clung to a 34-28 halftime lead against Hartford. FSU continued to get good position in the paint but uncharacteristically missed some chippies down low, shooting 11-of-29 (37.9 percent) in the first half. FSU was able to force 13 turnovers by the Hawks and relied on its defense to preserve a lead through the first 20 minutes.
Slaughter did a good job in the first half of forcing the issue and getting to the charity stripe, going 4-of-5 from the free throw line and leading FSU with eight points. Brittany Brown was solid in cutting off passing lanes and added six points in the first half, while Bulgak recorded six points as well.
Hartford was 10-of-21 (47.6 percent) and 4-of-9 on 3-pointers in the first half, and hung in there on the glass with 15 rebounds compared to FSU’s 16 boards. The key part of the first half for the Noles was a 12-0 run that turned a 16-10 deficit into a 22-10 lead.
Hartford ran good offense in the early portion of the game, making seven of its first 11 shots to take a 16-14 lead which includes a 6-0 run. Bulgak helped cut into the small deficit with a 3-pointer from the left wing, as FSU made five of its first 10 shots.
FSU travels to West Lafayette, Ind., for the ACC/B1G Challenge at Purdue on Wednesday, Dec. 3, at 7 p.m. The Noles then host rival Florida in the “Share a Little Sunshine Showdown” on Sunday, Dec. 7, at 2 p.m. at the Donald L. Tucker Center.
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