March 24, 2014
AMES, Iowa (seminoles.com) - The No. 10 seeded Florida State women's basketball team bowed out of its ninth NCAA Tournament in the last 10 seasons after falling to No. 2 seed Stanford, 63-44, on Monday evening in the NCAA Second Round at the Hilton Coliseum.
Making their 11th straight appearance in the second round of the Big Dance, the Seminoles (21-12) fell behind on a 26-2 run by the No. 6-ranked Cardinal that ended the first half and were never able to catch up. After Florida State jumped out to a 14-6 lead by forcing turnovers and converting them into points, Stanford began to work the ball around and get good offensive possessions to ignite its big run that changed the outcome of the game.
Senior Natasha Howard ended her career with nine points and seven rebounds against the Cardinal (31-3). Fellow senior point guard Cheetah Delgado added six points, three assists and three boards as well as three steals. Redshirt sophomore guard Morgan Jones chipped in with eight points.
Stanford was led by senior forward Chiney Ogwumike, who scored a game-high 21 points and added nine rebounds. Bonnie Samuelson hit timely treys to add 11 points, while Lili Thompson scored 14. The Cardinal shot 48.9 percent for the game, but was out-rebounded by FSU, 35-32.
"I give credit to Stanford, they played a great game and we just weren't able to make shots," FSU head coach Sue Semrau said. "But I'm proud of what this team was able to accomplish this season, and we were led by two great seniors in Natasha Howard and Cheetah Delgado. Those two were special for us throughout their careers. I'm proud of our entire team for how hard they worked and the character they showed."
Despite being down late, the `Noles would not go down quietly, using their trapping defense to help cut their deficit to 55-39 with 3:59 left in the game. Brittany Brown managed to weave through Stanford's transition defense for a nice layup on the left side, and then found a cutting Ivey Slaughter on the next possession to keep FSU in the ballgame.
A three-point play by Howard in the lane gave Florida State some momentum as it trailed 41-26 with 13 minutes remaining in the game. However, the Cardinal responded with an immediate 3-pointer by Bonnie Samuelson and a fastbreak layup by Lili Thompson to extend the Stanford lead back to 46-26 with just under 12 minutes left.
Florida State fell victim to a 26-2 run and posted its lowest point total of the first half, trailing Stanford 32-16. The `Noles endured a 9:48 field goal drought until Delgado hit a mid-range jumper with 2:43 left to leave FSU trailing 22-16. Ogwumike posted 12 points on 5-of-6 shooting at the half. The Cardinal was able to get its offense going as the half wore on, shooting 12-of-22 for 54.5 percent.
The `Noles were generating points off turnovers early, as Brown recorded two early steals three minutes into the game to set the new freshman record at FSU with 78. Emiah Bingley garnered five early points for FSU, including a triple from the right wing as the `Noles took an early 11-4 advantage through the first media timeout.
Both teams went through a cold shooting spell as FSU took a 14-10 lead with 9:32 left in the first half. Jones came in and gave the `Noles a spark with a straightaway 3-pointer, but a couple inside buckets by Ogwumike helped the Cardinal trim its early deficit.
Florida State attained its eighth 20-win season under Semrau, capping off another fine season as she continues to lead the `Noles as a national contender. FSU started the season with seven scholarship players and was forced to play with a limited rotation through a portion of the season, making its 2013-14 year even more impressive.
Monday's game brings to a close two accomplished careers by seniors Natasha Howard and Cheetah Delgado. Howard leaves Florida State as the school's all-time leader in career rebounds, double-doubles and finished second in points scored. Delgado set the school record for assists in a season at FSU, and also established a single-game school record with 15 dimes.
The `Noles are expected to bring back several players from their active roster and also add a 2013 signing class that features highly-ranked incoming student-athletes that add to the bright future for FSU women's basketball.
For more information on Florida State women's basketball throughout the offseason, follow the Seminoles on Twitter at @FSU_WBasketball and like their official Facebook page (Facebook.com/FSUWomensBasketball).