No. 16 Florida St. 80, Clemson 50
Courtney Ward thought Florida State had something to prove, especially after its disappointing performance last time out.
The 16th-ranked Seminoles not only lost a game at Miami, but saw the end of a 17-game road winning streak that lasted nearly two years.
``I think the lineup that came out tonight said 'We've got to put them away early and prove we're one of the best teams in the ACC,''' Ward said.
Florida State certainly did that with an 80-50 victory over Clemson on Thursday night.
Jacinta Monroe scored 18 points on 7-of-8 shooting, Ward had three 3-pointers for 11 points and the Seminoles (15-3, 2-1 Atlantic Coast Conference) defeated Clemson for the 14th time in 15 meetings.
Monroe and her teammates took pride in the streak, which helped them share an ACC regular-season title with Maryland in 2009.
``At the same time, we knew were weren't playing the basketball that we could and we suffered from that at Miami,'' Monroe said. ``The mood after that was disappointment and motivation at the same time.''
Monroe and Ward said practices leading up to the Clemson trip were focused and intense.
``When you lose basketball games, I think sometimes the coach gets more attention'' from players, Florida State coach Sue Semrau said. ``I think we came back very humble, very focused and understanding that any team can beat you on any given night.''
The Seminoles quickly ensured that wouldn't happen for a second straight road game.
The 6-foot-5 Monroe scored Florida State's first two baskets during a 16-2 run over the first 5 minutes that all but put Clemson away. Monroe continued hurting the Tigers underneath as the Seminoles continued to stretch the lead.
They wasted little time in getting a new streak started, connecting on seven of their first nine shots for a commanding lead with less than 6 minutes gone.
By the time Monroe scored her third basket, Florida State was up by 14 points and cruising.
April Parker scored the first basket of the second half to cut Florida State's lead to 33-20. But then the Seminoles made seven of 10 shots and all eight free throws over the next 8 minutes to go up 57-34.
Florida State's lead eventually grew to 33 points in the final minutes.
For Clemson (9-10, 0-3), it was their sixth straight defeat this season and the 40th consecutive loss to a ranked opponent.
Shaniqua Pauldo led the Tigers with 21 points.
The loss was Clemson's latest disappointing effort against a ranked ACC opponent. The Tigers had already lost to No. 7 Duke and No. 21 Georgia Tech in their previous two games. They head next to No. 12 North Carolina, a team they haven't beaten since 2001.
The Tigers have not started 0-3 in the ACC since 1986-87.
Fifth-year coach Cristy McKinney saw a spirited team at practices this week and expected a stronger effort. She worries the lopsided losses - Clemson's five defeats to ranked opponents this season have been by an average margin of more than 24 points - might demoralize her players with about two months left in the regular season.
``I don't want it to break us. I've said that from day one,'' McKinney said. ``Somehow they have to come through this stretch still intact, still confident.''
Clemson's top scorer, Lele Hardy, continued her recent struggles from the field. She was just 16 of 82 over her past four games. The senior missed her first six shots in this one before hitting two baskets.
Hardy ended with seven points on 3-of-13 shooting and had 12 rebounds before fouling out in the final minute.