Dec. 19, 2011
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (Seminoles.com) - Pumped up by a season-high crowd of 4,499, including over 2,000 elementary students, the Florida State women's basketball team set a new school record for blocked shots en route to a dominating 86-41 victory over Alabama A&M on Monday at the Donald L. Tucker Center.
The local children, at the game as part of the Seminoles' annual "Day of Class with the Noles" event, made their presence known from the start with chants of "Defense! Defense!" FSU listened and never let off the gas on the defensive side of the ball, blocking 15 Alabama A&M shots to break a 33-year-old school record.
"The crowd was awesome," Florida State head coach Sue Semrau said. "The chants were as efficient as our basketball game. They were together. They were really into the game. It was a great educational experience for them and a fun environment for us to play in."
Florida State sent Alabama A&M to the line just once the entire game and won its third consecutive game to improve to 6-5.
Senior post Cierra Bravard and sophomore forward Natasha Howard led the "block party" with four swats apiece, while junior guard Alexa Deluzio recorded three blocks and freshman Kristi Mokube put away a pair of AAU shot attempts, as the Seminoles showed no rust after nine days off and last week's final exams.
Howard's and Mokube's blocks marks were new career bests, while Deluzio tied her career high.
"I think the big thing was that we were able to block those shots without fouling," Semrau said. "To be a presence down low and put our hands on the ball was a big step for us."
FSU's previous school record came when the Noles blocked 12 shots against Mercer on Nov. 17, 1978. The Garnet & Gold's 15-block performance is also the most by an ACC team in 2011-12.
A Toledo, Ohio, native Howard had a spectacular all-around game, scoring 17 points, grabbing 11 boards and recording three steals to go along with her four blocks. It's her fourth double-double this season and second straight. The 6-3 forward also showed off her versatility by leading the fastbreak a number of times.
Deluzio added 17 points, while Bravard scored 14 - her 32nd straight game reaching double figures.
Reserve posts, Chelsea Davis (13 points) and Kristi Mokube (10 points) also scored in double digits, as FSU shot a season-high 56.3 percent from the floor. Mokube made 5 of 7 shots en route to career-highs in scoring and minutes (13).
Florida State jumped out to a 9-0 lead and swatted away Alabama A&M's first three shot attempts to start the contest and set a tone through the game.
The Seminoles led 21-3 after Bravard completed a three-point play at the 14:39 mark in the first half.
FSU's defense was so stout that the Lady Bulldogs didn't make a two-point basket until Whiquitta Tobar hit a jumper with 9:06 remaining before the break to make the score 30-14.
Tobar, who entered the game ranked 13th in the nation in scoring 20.6 ppg, scored 19 points on 8-of-22 shooting. The rest of the Lady Bulldogs shot 9-of-50 from the field. FSU held AAU to 23.6 percent field goal shooting - an opponent season low.
Florida State extended its lead to 30, 62-32, on a layup by Deluzio seven minutes into the second half. It was over seven minutes after the intermission that a Lady Bulldog other than Tobar scored.
"It's been awhile since we put a team away and I think we are starting to get that feeling back of what it feels like to be the team that we know we can be," said Bravard, who moved into 10th place in FSU history in rebounds on Monday. "This will give us some momentum going into our game on Thursday against Vanderbilt."
The Seminoles return to the court to face the No. 18/20-ranked Commodores on Thursday at 8 p.m. ET in Nashville before taking a six-day break. FSU will host Yale on Dec. 28 at 7 p.m.
For more information on the Florida State women's basketball team follow the Seminoles on Twitter at @FSU_WBasketball.
Christmas Connection The Florida State women's basketball team will be in the holiday giving spirit on Tuesday from 2-3 p.m. at the Tallahassee Mall, as players will be assisting Christmas Connection by packaging and distributing gifts to underprivileged families.
Christmas Connection tries to fulfill the wishes and some of the basic needs of hundreds of needy families in Northwest Florida each holiday season, delivering toys to children, putting food on tables and a little joy into homes.
Over the years, Christmas Connection has exploded to a massive volunteer effort that now helps 600 to 800 families in an eight-county region each year.
It is located at Suite 120 in the Tallahassee Mall (old Goody's location).