`Noles Face Big Road Test at Syracuse



Feb. 12, 2014

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (seminoles.com) - The Florida State women's basketball team travels to cold Upstate New York for the first time ever as it faces league opponent Syracuse on the road in an important conference matchup Thursday night at 7 p.m. at the Carrier Dome.

Thursday night's game can be heard on WNLS 1270-AM and through Seminoles.com, with Jonathan Schillace and Melissa Bruner on the call. While the game will not air on regular television, an all-access video broadcast will be available on Cuse.com.

"Syracuse is very good, especially at home," FSU head coach Sue Semrau said of the Orange. "They can shoot the ball well and have two very formidable guards. Whenever you think about Syracuse you think about the zone, whether it's the men or the women, and they're very good at it. They can also get up and press you a little bit in the full court, so those are things we're going to have to be ready for."

FSU is 1-1 this season vs. the other ACC newcomers in Pitt (W, 78-69 on Jan. 2) and Notre Dame (L, 81-60 on Feb. 6). It will be making its fourth trip to the Empire State, but its first-ever visit to Upstate New York. The previous four times the `Noles have traveled to New York have been to face Fordham on the road in the Bronx (12/19/00, 12/28/05, 11/14/06).

The Seminoles (16-7, 4-6) are 12-0 against New York-based opponents. They include Fordham (6-0), St. John's (2-0), Hofstra (1-0), Army (1-0), Colgate (1-0) and St. Francis (1-0).

A road win over Syracuse on Thursday night would go a long way for FSU. The Orange are ranked 17th in the latest NCAA RPI and would give FSU its first Top-25 RPI win of the season. FSU is rated 29th in the latest RPI.

Senior forward Natasha Howard was added to the Wade Trophy Watch List on Monday given to the top overall player in NCAA Division I Women's Basketball. Compared to her numbers in non-conference play, Howard has actually raised her scoring in the ACC from 17.3 to 19.4 points per game and her rebounding from 8.6 to 9.6 boards per game.

Senior point guard Cheetah Delgado enters Thursday night's game at Syracuse being one assist shy of 300 for her career. She would be the 13th FSU player to reach the milestone yet has not even played two full seasons.

A key for success this season is having the help of a third scorer for FSU. When three or more `Noles reach double figures in the scoring column, FSU is 14-4 this season. In ACC road games, FSU has out-rebounded its five opponents 219-216, a small margin of 0.6 boards per game.

FSU is 14th in the nation averaging 10.9 steals per game. With 251 steals right now, the `Noles are on pace to total their most steals in one season since producing 364 steals in the 1990-91 season.

Florida State corralled a season-high 24 offensive rebounds on Sunday in a 72-55 win over Boston College. FSU's 24 offensive boards were actually higher than BC's 22 total rebounds in the entire game. It was FSU's most offensive boards in a game since totaling 26 at Clemson on Jan. 20, 2011.

The `Noles continue to make their living in the paint, putting up 56 points inside in their last game vs. Boston College. It was their most points in the paint vs. an ACC school since totaling 58 points inside at Georgia Tech on Jan. 3, 2013.

Syracuse is recording one of its better seasons in recent memory, averaging nearly 76 points per game while staying very competitive in the difficult ACC. The Orange (17-7, 6-5) have been tough at the Carrier Dome, owning an 11-2 record that includes an undefeated 7-0 mark in non-conference play.

The Orange have shown that they value their possessions and don't force things too much offensively, sitting at second in the ACC with a +4.6 turnover margin. Sophomore guard Brittany Sykes is having an all-conference caliber year, averaging 18.1 points on 52.6 percent shooting. Fellow sophomore guard Brianna Butler forms a strong duo with Sykes in the back court.

For more information on Florida State women's basketball, follow the Seminoles on Twitter at @FSU_WBasketball and like their official Facebook page (Facebook.com/FSUWomensBasketball).

Howard Named to Naismith Trophy Midseason 30
Having already secured a finalist spot for the Senior CLASS Award, the Atlanta Tipoff Club announced on Wednesday that senior forward Natasha Howard advanced to the women's midseason Top 30 list for the Naismith Trophy given to the best overall player in college basketball.

The annual trophy is voted on by the Atlanta Tipoff Club's board of selectors, comprised of leading basketball journalists, coaches and administrators from around the country.

The four finalists will be unveiled on March 21, and the winner will be announced on April 7 during the NCAA Women's Final Four in Nashville, Tenn.

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