Nov. 15, 2012
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – The Florida State women’s basketball team busted out of the gates looking to run on Thursday night against Florida at the Donald L. Tucker Center. The Gators hung with the Seminoles for 12 minutes, but FSU never slowed down, leaving UF in the dust en route to a 98-67 victory.
The Garnet and Gold used a 28-2 run over the last eight minutes of the first half to blow out their interstate rivals and avenge a 14-point loss in Gainesville last season. It was Florida State’s biggest win over Florida since a 42-point (90-48) victory in 1980, and the second-biggest win in the history of the 74-game series that dates back to 1973.
“I felt like our heart as a team really grew tonight,” head coach Sue Semrau said. “One of the things that we have spent an awful lot of time talking about is team over self. When you have 22 assists in a game, and kids diving on the floor getting loose balls was a big part of it. I think this is a young Florida team. Jennifer George has come so far in her career. I think you really have to credit their staff for her development. It’s hard to go on the road if you are a 3-point shooting team, and hit shots. We wanted to make sure from the get-go that they didn’t get a lot of good looks. I thought we rebounded the ball extremely well in the first half and that got our running game going, so it was a lot of fun.”
Senior Leonor Rodriguez scored a career high 21 points and made four steals to lead four Seminoles in double figures. The Canary Islands, Spain, native made 9-of-14 field goals (both career highs), including 3-of-4 from behind the arc.
Junior Natasha Howard, who was named to the Naismith Award Early Season Watch List earlier on Thursday, recorded her 16th career double-double in her first game ever coming off the bench. Senior Alexa Deluzio also scored 18 off the bench, while classmate Chelsea Davis tallied 16.
The dynamic point guard duo of Morgan Toles (eight assists) and Cheetah Delgado (six assists) combined for 12 points, 14 assists and three steals.
“(Florida) pressed the entire game,” Semrau said. “What we did to attack it instead was start our two point guards. When you can have an All-American like Natasha Howard on the bench and a kid like Alexa Deluzio who has been amazing in her career and had a great night tonight, that’s selfless basketball and they really bought into that.”
The Gators (2-1) enjoyed the Noles’ uptempo style at first and led 23-14 10 minutes into the game. Florida quickly ran out of gas, however. After a layup by Kayla Lewis put Florida ahead 27-21 with 8:15 remaining in the first half, UF only made one more basket the rest of the first half.
Trailing by six, FSU scored 21 consecutive points over the next six minutes. It was a back-breaking run at a break-neck speed.
Davis got the run started with back-to-back baskets just under the eight-minute mark in the first half. After Rodriguez tied the game 27-27 with a jumper at the 6:50 mark, Delgado found Toles for a layup 30 seconds later to give the Seminoles the lead for good.
Florida State took a 33-27 lead five minutes before halftime when Rodriguez made a steal and dished a no-look pass to Toles for a fast break layup.
Moments later, Delgado had the play of the game, fooling a Florida defender with a fake pass while driving the lane before burying a tear-drop runner to make the score 35-27.
The crowd went wild, and the rout was on.
Howard followed with five straight points before Deluzio and Davis capped the run with layups that made the score 42-27 with 1:56 remaining in the half. Howard put the Noles up 20 with a putback just before the first half buzzer.
“It was the defense,” Rodriguez said. “It was also the bench, and was also the fans. It was just having fun. It was running the floor. It was going hard to the basket. It was us doing our job.”
The Seminoles, who shot 55 percent from the floor (39-of-71) and made 5-of-7 trey attempts, kept their foot on the gas in the second half.
Rodriguez brought the crowd to its feet with back-to-back three-pointers in a 19-second span to give FSU a commanding 62-37 with 15:38 remaining in the contest.
Florida State returns to action on Sunday at 2 p.m. against Stetson at the Donald L. Tucker Center.
Notes: Deluzio (18 points) played in her 100th career game and scored in double figures for the fifth straight game and the 59th time in her career…Howard recorded her 16th career double-double (18 points, 11 boards)…Rodriguez scored a career-high 21 points…Semrau recorded her 50th win over a team in the state of Florida…FSU has won four of the last five matchups with UF in Tallahassee…The 31-point was the second biggest in school history versus Florida behind a 90-48 win in 1980…The 98-point outburst is the most points by the Noles since scoring 102 in a win over Boston College on Jan. 27, 2011…FSU’s 71.4 percent three-point percentage (5-of-7) is the fourth-best in school history.
Florida State Head Coach Sue SemrauHoward
On the up-tempo offense…
“I didn’t think we were that kind of team because they like to play up-tempo, chaotic, press you all the time. They pressed the entire game. What we did to attack it instead was start our two point guards. When you can have an All-American like Natasha Howard on the bench and a kid like Alexa Deluzio who has been amazing in her career and had a great night tonight, that’s selfless basketball and they really bought into that.”
Florida State guard Leonor RodriguezHoward
On the 28-2 run to end the first half…
“For sure it was the defense. It was also the bench, and was also the fans. It was just having fun. It was running the floor. It was going hard to the basket. It was us doing our job.”
Florida State forward Natasha Howard
On coming off the bench…
“It really doesn’t matter if I start or come off the bench. I just want to help my team out any type of way, if I start or come off the bench.”
Florida Head Coach Amanda Butler
“Well obviously Florida State played a fantastic ball game and took us out of everything that we felt that we were good at, and you’ve got to give them great credit for that. Coach Sue did a great job of getting her kids ready. We’ve got to grow up a lot, we’ve got to learn how to handle adversity, and we’ve got to learn how to play really good teams on their home floor, because that is not going to be an uncommon thing for us this year. Florida State played great.”
“I think that it is real easy to start analyzing things of where you did or didn’t score, but defensively we were just doing a horrible job. When we did do a good job on defense, we didn’t do a good job rebounding, and that was something that we really, really harped on in our preparation because we knew they were a really effective rebounding unit. Again, you’ve just got to give them great credit, they called timeout when we made our run and made adjustments, and I’m sure Coach Sue got her kids fired up. When they hit us back in the mouth, we didn’t respond with that same toughness. We just learned a hard lesson tonight.”