Nov. 16, 2011
GAINESVILLE, Fla. (Seminoles.com) - The No. 19/21-ranked Florida State women's basketball team will look to take their third straight from rival Florida on Thursday at 5:30 p.m. in Gainesville.
The Seminoles have won six of their last eight overall against the Gators, including the last two at the O'Connell Center. However, FSU's recent victories over UF haven't been easy.
"It does not matter what either team looks like," Florida State head coach Sue Semrau said. "This is going to be a great basketball game. Florida returns all of their starters. They have a lot of players that can score in a lot of different ways. We have to be prepared to go down there and play great defense."
The past two contests between the Noles and Gators have been extremely close. Florida held leads midway through the second half of both games, but FSU came back to win 74-72 in Tallahassee last season and 66-62 in 2009-10. Florida State's last three victories over Florida have come by an average of just three points per game.
FSU is starting the season with one of the toughest initial four-game stretches in the country. The Garnet and Gold began the 2011-12 campaign with a 2-1 effort over three consecutive days at the WBI Tip-Off Classic in Daytona Beach, Fla., this past weekend.
"We played three really good opponents," Semrau said. "That third game, I think we ran out of gas. We learned a lot and we'll take a lot away from that first weekend that will help us down the road. We beat two quality opponents and we really challenged ourselves."
Clayton leads the Noles in scoring at 11.7 ppg, while Deluzio and senior preseason All-American center Cierra Bravard are both averaging 11.3 ppg.
Sophomore point guard Tay'ler Mingo has shown flashes of brilliance as the floor general. The first-year starter led FSU with 12 points in the season-opener versus USF. The lightning quick Akron, Ohio, native also showed she will be a menace on the defensive end, twice swiping the ball away from the Bulls' point guard and sprinting down the floor for easy layups.
"I really expect Tay'ler to step up and do big things for us," Semrau said. "I was really pleased with a lot of the things I saw out of her this weekend."
Junior Chelsea Davis has been superb off the bench and is shooting 93.3 percent (14-of-15) from the line, while sophomore Natasha Howard is averaging 10.3 boards per game after opening the season with a career-high 13 boards and her fourth career double-double against USF.
Florida comes into the contest 1-1 after falling 69-66 to Michigan in Gainesville last Friday, despite five three-pointers from senior gunner Jordan Jones (15.5 ppg), and defeating Stetson, 71-57, on Monday night. UF's Jennifer George matched her career-best with 21 points to go along with nine boards against the Hatters after being held scoreless against the Wolverines.
A bus will take fans to the Florida contest. It will leave from the Tennessee Street Wal-Mart at 2 p.m. Thursday and return after the game at approximately 11 p.m. Fans who want to attend should call 850-514-1793. The cost is $45 and includes travel to and from the game and a boxed meal.
For more information on the Florida State women's basketball team follow the Seminoles on Twitter at @FSU_WBasketball.