Dec. 18, 2008
CANCUN, Mexico — Highlighted by an impressive second-half defensive performance, the Florida State women’s basketball team earned a 75-32 victory over Northern Colorado in the opening game of the Caribbean Classic in Cancun, Mexico Thursday afternoon.
The Seminoles (9-2) will have an extra reason to enjoy the sunny weather after a performance against the Bears (4-5) that was defined by the best 20 minutes of defensive basketball played by the team all season long.
After allowing a late 3-pointer to cut their lead to seven before the buzzer sounded to signal halftime, the Seminoles came out looking like a different team in the second half. Northern Colorado entered halftime with 23 points compared to FSU’s 30 but the Bears would find that baskets were a premium in the final 20 minutes.
By holding Northern Colorado to just 20.3-percent shooting for the game – including a season-low 9.1-percent shooting in the second half – the FSU defense held UNC to just nine points after intermission. The nine-point output was the lowest allowed in a half this year by the Seminoles.
And the stellar statistics don’t stop there. The 32 points allowed were the fewest ever given up by an FSU squad on a neutral court in the history of the program. FSU also achieved a season-high 13 steals.
“We just had each other’s backs out there,” FSU true freshman center Cierra Bravard said. “When we play with each other and talk out there we can play really good defense and we just need to build off this as we go on.”
The Seminole defense did its part in setting the tone for the offense, too. Three FSU players scored in double figures as Bravard led the way with her first career double-double. To go along with her 13 points, she secured a career-high 12 rebounds.
Junior guard Angel Gray also had a terrific day for the Seminoles as she scored nine points to go along with a career-high five steals. She also tied her career high in assists with four.
For the game, the Seminoles grabbed a season-high 63 rebounds compared to just 25 by the Bears. FSU shot 43.3-percent from the floor and 37.5-percent from behind the 3-point line.
Interestingly enough, Monroe’s and Davis-Cain’s performances Thursday were even more special considering the ordeal that the two had to go through just to get to the game against Northern Colorado.
Head coach Sue Semrau, assistant coach Lance White, Monroe, reserve forward Cayla Moore, Davis-Cain and true freshman Chasity Clayton, who is taking a redshirt this season, all arrived in Mexico just minutes before tip-off. Those coaches and players – as well as a few members of the FSU women’s basketball support staff – had a connecting flight from Tallahassee, Fla. on Wednesday through Charlotte, NC while the rest of the players, coaches and staff were on a separate flight routed through Atlanta, Ga.
But due to weather issues, the flight through Charlotte was late and those members missed the connecting flight to Cancun and were consequently forced to spend the night in North Carolina before boarding a plan for Cancun very early Thursday morning.
Once again, however, reaching Mexico proved to be a difficult task. After taking off from Charlotte, the plane had to make a stop in Tampa, Fla. due to an onboard mechanical malfunction. The Seminoles were then forced to de-plane and board another aircraft bound for the Caribbean and arrived just in time for tip-off.
Game time was delayed one hour to allow FSU to have all its members in attendance.
Because of those travel issues, Monroe, who had started every game of the season entering the showdown with the Bears, had to come off the bench for FSU because she missed most of pregame warm-ups. Junior Alysha Harvin earned a start for the first time this year in place of Monroe and posted seven points, two assists and one steal in 22 minutes of action.
“I just saw a lot of resiliency on the part of my team,” Semrau said after the game. “I thought that the players were here believed they were going to have to go out and just play with seven and without the players that were with me. I was just pleased with the way that everybody handled the adversity.”
Next up for the Seminoles is their second of three games at the Caribbean Classic as they will face Washington Friday at 8:30 p.m. CST.