Feb. 13, 2014
SYRACUSE, N.Y. (seminoles.com) - A school-record 40 points by Florida State senior Natasha Howard resulted in a convincing 83-59 road win at Syracuse on Thursday evening at the Carrier Dome.
Howard registered her school-record 40 points on 14-of-19 shooting from the floor, as well as 12-of-15 from the charity stripe. Her 40th point to break the former record of 39 by Roneeka Hodges vs. Maryland in 2005 came on a free throw with 56 seconds left.
Howard's 40 points are the most by an ACC player this season in conference games. She only trails Wake Forest guard Chelsea Douglas' 48 points in non-conference play vs. FIU this past December.
"Natasha was incredible tonight," FSU head coach Sue Semrau said. "The individual honors are nice for her, but she would tell you first-hand that it's an even greater win for our team. I'm really proud of the way our players played tonight. They did an excellent job against a very good Syracuse basketball team and Natasha led the way for us."
Howard helped the Seminoles (17-7, 5-6) shoot 54 percent from the field. It was FSU's first 50-percent shooting performance in ACC play this season and its fourth time this year. FSU's 83 points were also its highest in ACC play this year.
Helping Howard was senior point guard Cheetah Delgado, who registered her fourth double-digit assists performance with 12 on the night. Freshman Ivey Slaughter recorded her ninth double-double of the season with 12 points and 11 boards, as the `Noles outrebounded the Orange (17-8, 6-6), 43-24.
Thursday's win was big for FSU in many ways, including getting its first Top-25 RPI victory of the year. The Orange entered Thursday's game with the No. 17 RPI in the nation. FSU also moves to 13-0 against New York-based colleges with its win over the Orange. Its 24-point win in conference play was its most lop-sided on the road over an ACC opponent since winning 75-40 at Virginia Tech on Jan. 8, 2012.
FSU aided itself once again shooting 21-of-26 from the free-throw line (80.8 percent), its third straight game shooting 75 percent or better. From long range, the `Noles nailed a season-high tying eight 3-point field goals. Sophomore Emiah Bingley contributed with four of those as she picked up 11 points.
FSU started to force the ball a bit in the beginning of the second half, but was able to convert its shots as Howard had six quick points to put the `Noles ahead 50-31 with 15:56 left in the game. FSU converted 12 of its first 13 free-throw attempts to aid its 19-point margin.
FSU continued to pour it on, as Howard totaled her career high of 28 points at the 11:31 mark and Delgado had 11 assists to form a dynamic duo in the contest. Howard converted a fastbreak layup from the left side later to secure her 30th point and make her the first `Nole since Courtney Ward vs. Vanderbilt in 2010 to reach the 30-point mark.
The `Noles played one of their best first halves of the season, hitting the 40-point mark for the first time on the road as they led 42-26. Howard led all scorers with 16 points and FSU shot a remarkable 6-of-8 from 3-point range. Bingley provided a big spark off the bench for the `Noles with 11 points that included three 3-pointers.
Delgado distributed the ball with great efficiency as she handled Syracuse's pressure and traps well, recording eight assists just in the first half. Morgan Jones added two 3-point field goals to boost the `Noles, who held Syracuse to 37.5 percent shooting in the first 20 minutes. Another key was FSU outrebounding the Orange by nearly twice as much in the first half, holding a 25-13 edge.
After falling behind early 9-2 thanks to a Syracuse 9-0 run, FSU began to show a crisp offense that focused on good ball movement. Jones drained her first trey of the game to tie the game at 9-9, and Howard continued to put in work down low as she notched 10 points in the early going to give FSU an 18-11 lead with 11:24 left in the first half. It was Howard's 85th career double-figure game.
FSU nailed two of its first three 3-pointers, as Bingley drained a three from the right wing to get the `Noles clicking early from long range. Bingley's efficiency from beyond the arc set the tone for FSU the rest of the way.
FSU prepares for a matchup with rival Miami in Tallahassee on Sunday, Feb. 16, at 2 p.m. at the Donald L. Tucker Center.
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