TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (Seminoles.com) -
The Florida State women's basketball team battled fifth-ranked Duke tough once again on Sunday in FSU's annual "Paint it Pink Game" at the Donald L. Tucker Center.
The Blue Devils (21-3 overall and 12-0 in the ACC) made 58.3 percent of their second-half shots, however, to pull away and hand the Seminoles a 67-57 loss.
FSU (13-13, 5-7) also was edged by Duke on Jan. 13, 73-66, in Durham, N.C.
"I couldn't be prouder of the way we played today," Florida State head coach Sue Semrau said. "They left everything they had on the floor against the No. 5 team in the country. I'm very proud of them."
Two players Semrau was particularly proud of were junior guard Alexa Deluzio and sophomore forward Natasha Howard. The pair continued to play well despite FSU falling behind by as many as 19 points with 8:45 remaining in the second half.
Deluzio scored 18 points and made a pair of treys, while Howard stuffed the stat sheet with 14 points, seven rebounds, three blocks and three steals in a career-best 38 minutes.
"I look at how Natasha ran down a fastbreak layup in the second half - most players wouldn't do that," Semrau said. "I think of how Alexa took over the game when she had an opportunity to play in the open court. It's fun to see those plays and see their development."
Deluzio's layup at the 12:45 mark in the first half gave her 1,001 career points, making her the 27th Seminole to reach the mark. The Orlando, Fla., native has played more on the wing the last two games with the addition of junior transfer point guard Morgan Toles.
Duke's potent offensive attack was spearheaded by Haley Peters, as she scored 18 points on 8-of-14 shooting.
The first three-pointer attempted and made of freshman center Elizabeth Williams' career sparked a 10-2 run late in the first half that gave Duke the lead for good.
After Williams' trey-ball, teammate Kathleen Scheer followed with a three of her own on Duke's next possession. Shay Selby and Tricia Liston added back-to-back buckets to give the Blue Devils a 28-19 lead with 3:21 remaining before halftime.
The Blue Devils took a 32-25 lead into the break, but Howard put the Seminoles on board first after halftime with a layup at the 19:40 mark.
Two minutes into the second half, Deluzio snuck up on Duke floor general Chelsea Grey and stole the ball before racing down the court for a layup that cut FSU's deficit to 4, 33-29.
The Blue Devils answered with a 12-2 run propelled by Peters' first three of the game and took a 49-34 lead after Grey converted a three-point play with 12:28 left in the game.
FSU fought back and made 5-of-7 field goals at one point in the second half, but the closest the Seminoles came down the stretch was 8, 63-55, when sophomore Olivia Bresnahan made a putback with 2:27 remaining.
Toles earned her first start in the Garnet and Gold in her second game of the season. She made her first field goal as a Seminoles on a foul line jumper at the 15:58 mark in the first half.
Florida State returns to action this Wednesday at the Donald L. Tucker Center for a 7 p.m. matchup with No. 22 North Carolina. The game will air live on ESPN3.
For more information on Florida State women's basketball, follow the Seminoles on Twitter at: @FSU_WBasketball.