WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (Seminoles.com) – Down by five points with 2 ½ minutes left in overtime, the Florida State Women’s Basketball team persevered down the stretch and delivered a 67-64 overtime victory over Purdue on Wednesday night at the ACC/Big Ten Challenge at Mackey Arena.
Purdue guard April Wilson’s basket gave the Boilermakers (3-3) what looked to be an insurmountable 62-57 lead with the crowd roaring and momentum on their side. However, redshirt senior guard Maegan Conwright calmly sank her fifth 3-pointer, and despite Purdue going back up 64-60, redshirt junior Morgan Jones drained a big 3-pointer of her own to create a 64-63 deficit with 1:40 left.
Following a good defensive possession, freshman Shakayla Thomas showed little nerves in getting the ball at the free throw line, using a nice crossover and hitting a floater to put FSU back on top at 65-64 with 24 seconds remaining. Purdue’s Ashley Morrissette then missed a jumper inside, and sophomore Brittany Brown’s two free throws with one second left virtually sealed the game.
The Seminoles improve to 7-1 this season. They made seven 3-balls on the evening and held Purdue to 34.4 percent shooting (21-of-61).
“It was tough on this team to come off five games away from home and then battle a Purdue team that has a great home atmosphere in what was our first true road game,” FSU head coach Sue Semrau said. “We really stepped up tonight defensively and we continue to work on that. It was a good win for us.”
Jones delivered a season high 20 points, including another big 3-pointer that put the Noles on top 55-52 with 38 seconds left in regulation, only to be responded by Morrissette’s game- tying triple 13 seconds later. Jones’ eight points late in the ballgame at critical times was an enormous boost for Florida State, which struggled in the second half shooting 31.8 percent.
Conwright gave FSU good offense once again with a career-high tying 19 points and a career-best five 3-pointers on 7-of-10 shooting. Junior center Adut Bulgak added 10 points and 12 rebounds, her fourth double-double of the season.
FSU shot 43.3 percent for the game, but took advantage of its second-chance points with an 18-7 edge. Despite out-rebounding Purdue 47-32, FSU lost the points in the paint battle for the first time this season at 26-24. Purdue was led by Wilson’s 17
Purdue took the lead on a layup by Hayden Hamby, going up 50-49 with 5:59 left in the game. Ivey Slaughter came through for FSU when she knocked down an elbow jumper against the shot clock, helping the Noles to a 52-50 lead.
A free throw by Whitney Bays brought Purdue to within one at 43-42, but Jones responded with another 15-foot jumper, only for Purdue to get a layup on the next possession. Thomas then took a pass in the paint, squared up and hit a floater from the block as FSU held a 47-46 lead with 8:02 remaining.
Conwright started the second half banging in her career-high tying fourth 3-pointer to give FSU a 39-26 lead. However, Purdue mounted a 7-0 run and the Noles picked up a few fouls over the stretch to help them out, forcing a timeout by Semrau with 13:56 left and FSU leading 39-33. A driving layup by Purdue’s Wilson cut the Boilermaker deficit to 41-37 with 12:03 left, but Jones came up with a big baseline drive and basket to give FSU a six-point cushion.
Florida State ended the first half on a scoring flurry as it carried a 34-24 lead into the locker room. FSU made six of its last nine shots as Conwright nailed her third 3-pointer of the game with 3:19 left to take a 28-21 lead. Following three consecutive free throws by Purdue, Jones hit another pull-up jumper and Brown recorded a fast-break layup to put FSU ahead 32-24 with 1:22 remaining.
Conwright then made one of the biggest plays of the half when she took an inbounds pass from half court and raced to the rack for a buzzer-beating finish. FSU shot 52 percent 15-of-29 in the first half, the ninth time in its first 15 halves played that it has shot 50 percent or better.
FSU had the advantage of second-chance points, leading 11-0 in the category. The Noles forced shooting droughts by the Boilermakers, as Purdue missed its last four shots to close the half and contribute to FSU’s late 6-0 run.
Jones provided the early offense for the Seminoles, hitting a couple pull-up mid-range jumpers as FSU took an 8-1 lead through the first media timeout. Purdue missed its first five field-goal attempts, while the Noles connected on four of their first eight field goals. Jones also created a bucket out of a broken possession when she found Bulgak underneath who then found Thomas for an inside bucket.
Conwright found her groove offensively with some timely 3-balls, hitting her second with 8:04 left in the first half to give FSU a 20-14 lead. Conwright has recorded multiple 3-point field goals in all seven of her games played. Whitney Bays came back for Purdue with a mid-range jumper as the Noles clinged to a 20-16 advantage.
Bulgak’s hustle was on full display when she ran full court to try and send a ball into FSU’s possession for going out of bounds. Although she wasn’t able to get there, she was rewarded a couple possessions later on an offensive put back to put FSU ahead 23-16 with 4:20 left in the first half.
FSU returns home for the “Share a Little Sunshine Showdown” against Florida on Sunday afternoon at 2 p.m. Following Sunday’s game, the Holiday Snow Festival will be held right outside the Donald L. Tucker Center from 4-8 p.m. and includes 50 tons of snow. Other activities include horse-drawn carriage rides, cider/hot cocoa, holiday music, Florida State Cheerleaders, a balloon artists and a visit from Santa Claus.
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