Dec. 9, 2011
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (Seminoles.com) - The Florida State women's basketball team has some unfinished business in the state of Ohio it will try to take care of on Saturday at 2 p.m. when the Seminoles travel to Akron, Ohio to face the Zips at James A. Rhodes Arena.
FSU, featuring three players from the Buckeye State, lost at Ohio State, 78-75, in a hard-fought overtime thriller in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge on Nov. 30 despite 27 points and 12 rebounds from senior star Cierra Bravard.
"We had a great opportunity up at Ohio State," Florida State head coach Sue Semrau said. "It was an unfortunate finish to the game for us. Our players really want to go back up there and win."
Bravard, from Sandusky, Ohio, is averaging 16.7 ppg and 7.6 rpg this season. In two away games - at OSU and at Florida - she is averaging 24.5 ppg and 10.5 rpg. Bravard, sophomore forward Natasha Howard (Toledo) and sophomore guard Tay'ler Mingo (Akron) are all looking forward to their second opportunity to play in their home state.
"I'm very excited," Bravard said. "I'm looking forward to us being able to redeem ourselves from the OSU game and to go out there and play hard in front of our families."
For Mingo it's the rare chance to actually play in her hometown. The 5-7 guard was a two-time Ohio Division III Player of the Year and won a state championship at Regina High School in South Euclid, Ohio. She remembers playing at James A. Rhodes Arena, which goes by "The Jar" and is where LeBron James played his home games in high school, and against the Zips' top player Rachel Tecca during her prep career.
One of Mingo's first hoops memories is of playing at "The Jar" when she first starting playing basketball.
"When I first signed up for AAU basketball, I was one of those little kids running up and down the court at halftime of a game," Mingo said. "That was one of my first big experiences playing basketball. I remember it being a lot of fun."
Akron brings a four-game win streak into its matchup with Florida State. The Zips have scored above 80 points in four consecutive games and are led by the 6-1 Tecca, a forward and All-MAC First Team selection, averaging 17.9 ppg this season. Akron ranks seventh in the country in overall field goal percentage, shooting 48.0 percent.
"They execute," Semrau said of the Zips. "They run a lot of different sets. We're going to really have to rely on our principles and maximize how hard we play when we go up there and try to get a win."
In their last game, the Seminoles ended a three-game losing skid by edging Charlotte, 64-62, at the Donald L. Tucker Center. Five Noles scored in double figures, including Bravard who extended her double-figure scoring streak to 30 games.
After the victory over the 49ers, Semrau gave her squad a two-day break to rest and prepare for finals. She expects the short break to give the Seminoles a boost this weekend as they will not only try to capture redemption, but also pull their record to .500.
"The team came back on Wednesday extremely fresh and hungry," Semrau said. "That confidence boost really helped them in those days off to give them a different type mentality going into our next game."
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