Feb. 6, 2014
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (seminoles.com) - After building momentum early in the second half of a close game, the Florida State women's basketball team was unable to hang on as No. 2 Notre Dame defeated FSU, 81-60, on Thursday evening at the Donald L. Tucker Center.
With the crowd energized as the Seminoles (15-7, 3-6) trailed just 34-33 with 18:30 left in the game, a missed layup on a fast-break opportunity that would have given FSU the lead spiraled into a quick 8-0 run for the Fighting Irish (22-0, 9-0). The surge by Notre Dame created a 10-point swing, and the Irish cruised from there to highlight a dagger 22-3 run that sealed the game.
"I thought in the first half we did a good job of covering," FSU head coach Sue Semrau said. "If we can hold the score below 70 then that gives us a chance. We came out and we had too many mental errors in the second half. We had breakdowns."
Despite the loss, FSU was led by the offensive assertiveness of senior point guard and Lieberman Watch List candidate Cheetah Delgado. The native of Kissimmee, Fla., recorded a career-high 18 points on 9-of-14 shooting and added six rebounds and four assists. Delgado, who leads the ACC in overall assists and assists in conference play, now has 285 dishes for her career which is 15th in school history.
"She is capable of doing all of that," Semrau added of Delgado's offensive ability. "I think she did a lot of things for us and she is going to do more."
Notre Dame outscored Florida State in the second half, 49-31, which included a 62.5 percent shooting effort in the game's final 20 minutes. The Irish were 31-of-58 (53.4 percent) to mark a season-high shooting percentage by an FSU opponent this year.
Forward Natalie Achonwa led Notre Dame with 24 points on 10-of-12 shooting, while guard Jewell Loyd added 18. Guard Kayla McBride posted 14 points on the evening.
FSU senior forward Natasha Howard worked hard in the post all evening, adding 11 points and eight rebounds. Howard's third field goal make of the game gave her 600 for her career, joining FSU legends Sue Galkantas (919) and Tia Paschal (683) as the only players to reach the 600 plateau.
Howard also started her 116th career game on Thursday night, breaking a school record formerly held by guard Courtney Ward. She added three blocks as well, giving her 170 for her career which ties her for 25th on the all-time ACC list.
The `Noles hurt themselves offensively with a tough night from beyond the arc, hitting 2-of-17 while Notre Dame efficiently hit 6-of-13. The second half included easier chances for Notre Dame to score down low, finishing with 42 points in the paint.
Florida State fought valiantly in the first half, using a late 12-3 run to trail just 32-29 to the Irish. Delgado and Howard led FSU with eight points apiece, while Notre Dame's Achonwa poured in 15 points. The `Noles were able to hold Notre Dame to just 2-of-7 from three-point range and out-rebounded the Irish 20-15.
Things got off to fast start as Notre Dame held a 16-11 lead at the first media timeout of the game at the 13:12 mark. Achonwa got some easy baskets inside and had 11 points on 5-of-5 shooting to lead the Irish. Delgado was being assertive for FSU on offense, nailing a few mid-range jumpers to keep it in the game early.
The Irish were effective in attacking inside, catching lob passes behind FSU's zone. Notre Dame used an 11-0 run to take a 23-11 lead until Delgado scored on a fastbreak layup to stop the run. FSU struggled from the floor, shooting 6-of-24 early while Notre Dame hit 11 of its first 20 field-goal attempts.
Howard started to get into the mix for the `Noles as she had a couple field goals on the inside to leave FSU trailing 29-21. FSU started to be more effective in its rebounding and limited Notre Dame to one-shot opportunities, trailing just by eight after the final media timeout in the first half. Howard's put-back with 3:25 left in the first half marked her 600th career field goal made, just the third `Nole to reach that mark.
FSU hosts Boston College on Sunday afternoon at 1 p.m. in the team's annual `Paint it Pink' game raising breast cancer awareness. Fans are encouraged to wear pink to the contest, which will be televised on the ACC regional sports networks that include FOX Sports Florida.
For more information on Florida State women's basketball, follow the Seminoles on Twitter at @FSU_WBasketball and like their official Facebook page (Facebook.com/FSUWomensBasketball).