Nov. 3, 2011
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (Seminoles.com) - The No. 14/13-ranked Florida State women's basketball team opens the 2011-12 season with an exhibition contest against Florida Southern on Saturday at 2 p.m. at the Donald L. Tucker Center.
Admission to the contest is free and the entire Seminoles' squad and head Coach Sue Semrau will sign autographs and meet with fans after the game.
Led by preseason All-American senior center Cierra Bravard, FSU appears in both preseason polls for the fifth consecutive season, ranking No. 14 in the Associated Press poll and coming in at No. 13 in the USA Today/ ESPN Coaches' list. The Noles were also picked to finish fourth in the ACC, while Bravard was selected to the Preseason All-ACC First Team.
The Garnet and Gold are coming off of a 24-8 2010-11 season that saw the Noles advance to their seventh straight NCAA Tournament. FSU returns three starters and nine letterwinners and adds a trio of freshmen.
Florida Southern, an NCAA Division II school, finished with a record of 26-5 in 2010-11 and won the regular season and tournament titles in the Sunshine State Conference (SSC). The Mocs advanced to the NCAA Division II South Regional semifinals in 2011.
Senior forward Michaela Hawley (13.0 ppg) and senior guard Megan Dzikas (10.3 ppg) return as starters for Florida Southern, who is picked to finish third in the SSC.
The Mocs will have to replace 2011 SSC Women's Player of the Year and SSC Tournament MVP Emma Cannon (15.7 ppg and 12.1 rpg).
Florida State and Florida Southern have met once in a regular season game, with the Noles taking a 97-58 victory in 1979-80.
Bravard will start at the pivot for the second straight season for the Noles and will be joined by fellow returning starters sophomore forward Natasha Howard and redshirt junior guard Alexa Deluzio. Redshirt junior forward Chasity Clayton and sophomore guard Tay'ler Mingo are expected to step into the starting lineup for graduated guards Courtney Ward, FSU's all-time leader in three-pointers and assists, and Christian Hunnicutt, the 2011 ACC Defensive Player of the Year.
Bravard led Florida State in scoring (15.0 ppg) and rebounding (7.8 rpg) last season, and was lethal at the charity stripe, shooting 78.8 percent from the line and making an ACC-best 156 free throws.
Deluzio averaged 12.0 ppg and led the ACC in three-point percentage in league play (49.0 percent).
Howard averaged 10.6 ppg and 6.6 rpg, while earning Third Team Freshman All-America and All-ACC Freshman Team honors.
Clayton has 18 career starts and 7.5 ppg and 4.7 rpg career averages, while Mingo played in 24 contests a year ago, learning from Ward as a backup.
For more information on the Florida State women's basketball team, follow the Seminoles on twitter at: @FSU_WBasketball.