Nov. 29, 2011
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (Seminoles.com) - When the Florida State women's basketball team faces No. 17/18 Ohio State on Wednesday at 8:30 p.m. ET at Value City Arena in Columbus it will be a home game of sorts for three members of the team.
Senior center Cierra Bravard (Sandusky) and sophomores Natasha Howard (Toledo) and Tay'ler Mingo (Akron) will be returning to their home state and will have plenty of family and friends in the crowd when the Seminoles take the court against the Buckeyes.
The contest will be televised live on the Big Ten Network (BTN) and FSU's radio broadcast will air on 1270 AM WNLS.
"It's exciting to know that our families are going to be there," Bravard said. "It's going to be a great matchup. We can't let coming home be a distraction, but instead, a motivation to play well and to play hard."
The Seminoles are coming off of two consecutive close losses against No. 11/12 Louisville (85-76) and Nebraska (66-63). FSU either led or was tied late in each game.
The Buckeyes continue a string of a challenging opponents for FSU, as they will be the seventh BCS conference school with a winning record the Noles have faced in eight games to start the season.
Ohio State is 5-0 and coming off of a Sweet 16 season. The Buckeyes are led by senior point guard Samantha Prahalis. The 5-7 dynamo is averaging 19.6 ppg and 6.8 apg. However, OSU lost their top player from a year ago, four-time All-America center Jantel Lavender.
FSU has had success against the Buckeyes and in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge in the past.
The 11th-seeded Seminoles upset the sixth-seeded Buckeyes, 60-49, in the first round of the 2008 NCAA Tournament in Des Moines, Iowa, in their only matchup.
The Seminoles hold a 10-8 record all-time against the Big Ten, including a 3-1 record in the Conference Challenge. FSU won its first three games in the event before falling to Michigan State, 72-64, last season.
"It's been great to have both of the men's and women's programs competing in this event," Florida State head coach Sue Semrau said. "It's fantastic. The Big Ten is a very different conference than the ACC. It's great for us to go out of conference and play against a style that we might not see in the ACC, but one that we will likely see in the NCAA Tournament."
Bravard, who is averaging 18.7 ppg and shooting 63.3 percent over the last three games, and Howard (9.0 ppg, 8.6 rpg) are both expected to start against their home-state school, while Mingo should be one of the first Noles off the bench. The 5-7 guard started FSU's first four games, but has come off the bench the past three.
A win over a ranked Ohio State team on its home floor would not only make for a great homecoming for a trio of Noles, but also give a 3-4 FSU team a much-needed resume-building win.
"We need to really zero in and narrow our focus," Semrau said about the possible distractions from playing in front of family and friends. "Emotions can come into a game like this in a good way or a bad way. We need to be intentional about our focus."
In addition to the three Florida State players, assistant coach Brooke Wyckoff also is a native Ohioan. Wyckoff is from West Chester near Cincinnati and starred for Lakota High School before joining Semrau's first FSU team in 1997. After nine years of playing professional basketball, Wyckoff served as an assistant coach at Lakota East High School before joining the Seminole staff.
For more information on Florida State women's basketball, follow the Seminoles on Twitter at: @FSU_WBasketball.