March 22, 2014
AMES, Iowa (seminoles.com) - A gritty defensive effort by the 10th-seeded Florida State women's basketball team limited No. 7 Iowa State offensively as it earned a 55-44 win over ISU in front of a boisterous Cyclone crowd of 6,759 on Saturday night in the NCAA First Round at the Hilton Coliseum.
The Seminoles (21-11) held a lead for the entire game and took the Cyclones' (20-11) home faithful right out of the game in what was considered a neutral-site matchup in the NCAA postseason. Playing a team that is predicated on 3-point shooting, Florida State's 2-3 zone limited ISU to just 7-of-38 from outside while the `Noles dominated in the lane with 30 points compared to 14 by the opposition.
The victory gives Florida State its 11th consecutive opening-round win in the NCAA Tournament. FSU will play the winner of No. 2 Stanford and No. 15 South Dakota on Monday evening at 6:30 p.m. ET/5:30 p.m. CT.
"Iowa State does so many nice things, but they don't play against a zone much as most teams," FSU head coach Sue Semrau said. "We couldn't just match up and hope to beat them. I'm very proud of our team for the way they handled themselves tonight in front of a great crowd."
A balanced scoring effort was the highlight for Florida State on the offensive end. Seniors Natasha Howard and Cheetah Delgado led the way with 10 points apiece, while Lauren Coleman and Morgan Jones each posted nine. Seven of Jones' nine points came at the free-throw line when FSU was in need of free points down the stretch to help close out the game.
Howard shot 5-of-9 from the field as the Cyclones closed in hard on her. She added 13 rebounds, a game high, to mark her 41st career double-double and her 44th career double-digit rebounding effort. Her offensive board and put-back with 8:37 remaining in the first half made her FSU's all-time leading rebounder, passing Seminole legend Cherry Rivers (1976-80). Howard now has 1,043 career boards.
"We know that Iowa State is a good shooting team, and we knew we needed to rebound," Howard said following the game. "So I think everyone made sure they boxed out. That was our main focus with Iowa State because they are a really good rebounding team."
Although the `Noles were turnover-prone with 25 miscues on the night, they did what they had to do defensively to limit Iowa State's long-range shooters. The Cyclones shot just 18.2 percent (7-of-38) from beyond the arc, with FSU doing a good job for the most part of closing out and giving little space on shooters Nikki Moody (1-of-7), Jadda Buckley (2-of-9) and Brynn Williamson (4-of-11).
Freshman Ivey Slaughter garnered 13 rebounds in 20 minutes of action to help the `Noles gain a 44-30 rebounding edge. Coleman tied her career high drilling three 3-pointers en route to her nine points, while Emiah Bingley played strong perimeter defense all night.
"We all got to stay together," Delgado added. "I think today we did a really good job of staying together on the same page, and we get to do the same thing tomorrow and start to focus on the next game."
Florida State's gritty effort resulted in the fifth-lowest scoring effort of the season by an opponent. In 14 non-ACC games this season, FSU has now held its opponents to just 32.1 percent shooting from the floor and 53.9 points per game. Overall, Iowa State shot 25.4 percent from the field, the lowest by an opponent since Jacksonville shot 24.6 percent on Dec. 8, 2013.
Holding a 30-18 lead in the first half, Florida State set the tone in the second half when a quick 4-0 run helped the `Noles to its largest lead at 38-23 with 17:18 remaining. Freshman Brittany Brown punctuated the effort with a steal and fast-break layup to create the 15-point lead, just moments after she scored underneath to keep FSU's momentum going.
Iowa State began to make things interested when it cut its deficit to single digits on a 3-pointer from Williamson with 9:15 left, making it 40-33 FSU. Delgado came right back with a runner in the lane to extend the lead back to three possessions. Later, a bucket by Buckley made it 46-39 with just under three minutes left, but Jones would calmly sink seven free throws down the stretch as Iowa State tried to foul and generate more scoring opportunities. A missed 3-pointer by Iowa State's Nicole Blaskowsky with 24 seconds left finalized the FSU victory.
Florida State got off to an auspicious beginning, using two 3-pointers from Coleman to lead 11-2 over Iowa State through the first media timeout. The drive-and-kick game worked for FSU early as it was able to get good penetration from its guards and find the open spot-up shooter. Bingley opened the scoring for FSU off a nice feed from Delgado in the corner, canning a trey to get the `Noles started.
FSU stayed strong defensively in its 30-18 halftime lead, the fourth-lowest point total by the opposition through the game's first 20 minutes.
Florida State and Iowa State are now tied at 1-1 in the all-time series, with Saturday's matchup a rematch of the NCAA Second Round in 2001 that featured current assistant coach Brooke Wyckoff and Seniors Women's Administrator Vanessa Fuchs on the team.
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