TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (Seminoles.com) – Redshirt senior guard Maegan Conwright set the tone for the Florida State Women’s Basketball team on opening night, scoring a career-best 19 points to lead FSU to a 92-62 win over UAB on Friday evening at the new and improved Donald L. Tucker Center.
With plenty of excitement over the huge overhaul of the Noles’ basketball facility flooding the offseason talk, the Seminoles (1-0) proved that they can provide just as much hoopla on the court. Florida State followed up its exhibition glimpse against Faulkner by once again creating easy buckets on offense through the running game, generating 19 fast-break points while UAB was held to zero.
The turning point in Friday’s contest came midway through the first quarter. UAB went on an 8-0 run to cut FSU’s lead to 14-13 on a 3-pointer from Janae Smith. In the blink of an eye, the Seminoles responded with a 16-0 flurry that lasted just 2:44 and created a 30-13 advantage. Conwright led FSU with six points during the run.
Conwright, an Arlington, Texas, native, played her first game at FSU after transferring from Kentucky. Her career-high as a Wildcat ironically came on this day four years ago when she scored 15 points against Miami-Ohio. Since coming to FSU, the experienced guard has learned to become more assertive on the offensive end and showed that Friday night by shooting 7-of-12 from the field and 4-of-5 from 3-point range.
“It felt great,” Conwright said of playing in her first regular-season game in nearly two years. “I was nervous at first but as soon as the jump ball came I got zoned back in and I was serious and told myself, ‘I can’t mess up.’ I was nervous at first but it felt fine after that.”
Also feeling fine was Florida State’s inside tandem of Ivey Slaughter and Adut Bulgak. Both players had identical stat lines of 16 points and nine rebounds, while Slaughter added four steals and Bulgak recorded two blocks. The duo helped FSU gain a 41-30 edge on the glass against a UAB team with good size. The Noles also held a 56-24 advantage in the paint, with Slaughter using a variety of nice moves inside while Bulgak feasted on some nice passes from FSU’s guards.
The Noles shot 39-of-71 in the contest (54.9 percent), while UAB put up a respectable 41.2 percent (21-of-51) from the field. As FSU’s lead swelled in the first half, FSU head coach Sue Semrau was able to mix and match different lineups and get all 12 active players into the game.
“It’s fun to have the season opened and get an opportunity to get out there on the court,” Semrau said. “I’m really, really pleased with a lot of things that I saw and also we have a lot of room for improvement.”
Freshman forward Shakayla Thomas made her FSU debut against one of the schools from her home state of Alabama. The Sylacauga native totaled 10 points and six rebounds on 5-of-9 shooting in 19 minutes to round out FSU’s four double-figure scorers.
One of the anticipations for this season is FSU’s depth, allowing the Noles not to miss a beat when looking toward the bench. FSU scored 31 bench points Friday night, its most since scoring 35 at Virginia last season on Jan. 19, 2014. FSU also forced 26 UAB turnovers and converted them into 44 points.
Florida State took a 49-26 lead through the game’s first 20 minutes, shooting 21-of-38 (55.3 percent) from the floor and hitting five of its first nine 3-pointers. Conwright headed up FSU’s efficiency from the field, hitting three first-half treys and leading the way with 14 points on 5-of-9 shooting. UAB was held to 10-of-25 (40 percent) from the field but got eight points apiece from forward Janae Smith and Brittany Winborne.
The Noles took an 8-3 lead through the first media timeout, getting a 3-ball from Morgan Jones and a straightaway trey from Conwright. After taking a 14-5 lead, UAB went on an 8-0 run until FSU responded with a quick run of its own, thanks to a nifty no-look assist by Shakena Richardson and a fast-break layup for the New Jersey native. Her energy off the bench helped FSU to a 20-13 lead early in the first half, and FSU would end up scoring 10 more unanswered points.
FSU has now won its past 21 season openers, with Semrau owning an 18-0 record in the first game of the season. The Noles also extended their non-conference win streak at home to 17 games.
FSU will return to the Tucker Center floor on Tuesday, Nov. 18, at a special start time of 11 a.m. against Bethune-Cookman. The game is “Field Trip Day,” with free admission for all elementary schools that participate in the promotion.