Dec. 20, 2007
BIRMINGHAM , Ala. –
Having hit a snag in its last two road games and without two of its top players, the prospects of going on the road may have seemed daunting to the Florida State women’s basketball team, but the Seminoles were up to the challenge. Florida State played stingy defense and converted that into scoring opportunities as it beat UAB, 66-52, on Thursday (Dec. 20) at Bartow Arena.
The triumph improved the Seminoles to 8-3 on the year. UAB dropped to 4-8. FSU also snapped a streak of two-straight losses in the last game before Christmas.
“We talked about it in the locker room that when you hold a team to 17 percent shooting at half time you’re doing something right,” FSU head coach Sue Semrau said. “We gave up 50 points in a half at Texas A&M and tonight we only gave up 52 in the game so that says a lot.”
Posting her first collegiate double-double was junior guard Mara Freshour (Nashville, Ind.) as she scored 15 points and grabbed 10 rebounds. Tying Freshour for the team-high with 15 points was senior Shante Williams (Jacksonville, Fla.). Grabbing a career-high 11 rebounds was forward Cayla Moore (Albany, Ga.) to go along with seven points.
“They are really two players who love to compete,” Semrau said of Freshour and Williams. “They had a lot of help tonight. I thought Cayla Moore coming in was so big. She got some key buckets for us, but more importantly some big rebounds. Antionette Howard did some really nice things for us and that’s after we threw her into a brand new position in the middle of the game because of some foul trouble.”
Back in her home state, rookie guard Courtney Ward (Montgomery, Ala.) scored 11 points – giving her back-to-back double-digit games – and she was one of four players to tally a pair of assists. Williams led the way with four steals and a pair of blocks.
For the second game in a row Florida State held its opponent to under 30 percent shooting as UAB hit 28.2 percent (20-of-71). FSU needed that defensive effort as it shot a season-low 39.7 percent (23-of-58). FSU was sharp from outside, hitting 46.2 percent (6-of-13) and a solid 73.7 percent (14-of-19) from the free throw line.
The lone area where UAB had an advantage was on the boards (50-to-44), which led to a 14-7 margin in second-chance points. Florida State forced the Blazers into 20 turnover, including 11 steals and had six blocks.
A barrage of three pointers allowed Florida State to establish an early lead on the Blazers. Alysha Harvin (Dania, Fla.) , Ward and Freshour hit one each to give FSU an 11-5 lead at the 16:33 mark. Florida State played tremendous defense through the first 11 minutes of the game, allowing UAB to make only one field goal and miss 16 in a row. The Blazers went almost seven minutes without scoring a point, which allowed the Seminoles to establish a 19-6 lead at the 9:25 on a Williams’ jumper.
The lead would grow to as many as 14 (23-9) on a Freshour jumper with 6:38 remaining in the opening half. Unfortunately, the Seminoles would not score a point over the next 2:30 and that allowed the Blazers to go on an 8-0 stretch to close to 23-17. A Williams’ jumper at the 4:06 mark stopped the run. The Seminoles would hold UAB to just two points the last 4:45 of the game as they took a 28-19 lead into the locker room.
A pair of threes helped Freshour lead the team with eight points while Williams was two back. The junior was also the leading rebounder with eight, to go along with four from Moore. Ward had a pair of assists and Howard contributed three steals.
Defense was the key for Florida State in the first half as it limited UAB to just 17.9 percent (5-of-28) to the Seminoles’ 33 percent (11-of-33). FSU forced the Blazers into 12 turnovers – including seven steals – that it turned into 12 points. UAB did hold a significant 28-to-20 advantage on the boards.
The two teams would trade baskets through the first five minutes of the second half. UAB would get within six (35-29) on a three pointer by Diamond Rogers. Florida State put the defensive clamps on again, holding UAB to without a basket. During the Blazers’ dry spell the Seminoles went on a 6-0 run to push the margin back to 12 (41-29) on a Jacinta Monroe (Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.) jumper.
The lead continued to grow for the Seminoles, reaching 17 (52-35) on a trio of free throw by Monroe. It got to 19 (57-38) with 7:34 remaining when Williams got a lay-up on a break following a great steal. Another Williams’ jumper got the lead back to 19 and FSU would need the margin as it did not score a point for nearly six minutes. During that stretch, UAB got the Seminoles’ advantage down to 11 (59-48) before Florida State hit seven free throws to seal the game.
Florida State is off for a week around the Christmas holiday and will be back on the floor at home on December 27 when it takes on Samford at 7 p.m. The game can be heard on 1270 AM and Seminoles.com as well as seen on ACC Select.