AMES, Iowa (AP) Cheetah Delgado says she and her Florida State teammates went into their NCAA women’s tournament opener with the idea they were playing not just Iowa State but also the Hilton Coliseum crowd.
The Seminoles beat both.
Natasha Howard had her school-record 15th double-double of the season with 10 points and 13 rebounds, and 10th-seeded FSU defeated the cold-shooting Cyclones 55-44 on Saturday.
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”We talked about it plenty of times at timeouts, at halftime, that we can’t let them get back-to-back shots, especially 3s, because that gets the fans really fired up,” Delgado said. ”So we tried to keep them to one shot and then score at our end.”
The Cyclones were second in the nation in attendance this season at better than 10,000 a game. The home crowd had little to cheer as the Cyclones turned in their worst shooting performance of the season.
The Seminoles (21-11) won their 11th straight tournament opener since 1991, prevailing in a game in which turnovers outnumbered field goals 44-36. They’ll play No. 2 seeded Stanford (30-3) on Monday night.
FSU coach Sue Semrau said more important than the winning streak in tournament openers was beating the Cyclones in Ames.
”Whew. It’s really just more relief,” she said. ”Right now there’s not a lot of joy knowing the next one’s coming.”
The Seminoles beat the Cyclones at their own game early, making four straight 3-pointers to build a quick 12-point lead.
”We just knew we had to come out strong,” said Delgado, who had 10 points to go with six assists. ”The last couple of games we’ve been coming out really strong, with a lot of intensity.”
Hallie Christofferson scored 13 points, Brynn Williamson added 12 on four 3-pointers, and Jadda Buckey had 10 for the Cyclones (20-11).
Howard came in averaging 29.2 points in her previous nine games but didn’t crack double figures until less than 4 minutes were left.
The seventh-seeded Cyclones’ 15 field goals were a season low, as was their 25.4-percent accuracy. They were just 7 of 38 on 3-pointers (18.4 percent) against the Seminoles’ 2-3 zone defense.
”I don’t know how we held them to 18 percent from the 3-point line except for grits and guts,” Semrau said. ”The last couple of days I thought we were really able to focus on what Iowa State was going to want to do. They do so many nice things, but they don’t play aagainst much zone.”
ISU coach Bill Fennelly said he had no problem with the shot selection.
”I’d say most of them sure, again, shoot it,” he said. ”That’s this tournament. You don’t make any, you go home.”
The Seminoles led 30-18 at half, and Brittany Brown scored six straight points to push it to 38-23.
Williamson got Iowa State within 10 points with a 3-pointer that swirled around the cylinder before dropping, bringing some life to the Hilton Coliseum crowd. Neither team scored for almost four minutes before Williamson hit another 3 to cut it to 40-33 with 9 minutes left.
The Cyclones had a chance to make it a two-possession game with under 3 minutes left, but Buckley barreled into Slaughter along the baseline for an offensive foul.
”We couldn’t make enough consecutive plays on either end of the floor to change the outcome,” ISU coach Bill Fennelly said. ”They were the better team today.”
Slaughter, who had 13 rebounds, left with about a minute left after she landed hard trying to get a rebound against Christofferson. Semrau said Slaughter injured her back.
”I think she’ll be OK,” Semrau said. ”She fell pretty hard. But she’s a tough kid.”
Florida State’s 12-point halftime lead could have been greater had it not been for its 14 turnovers.
The Seminoles, one of the most turnover-prone teams in the country, finished with 25, their second most of the season. Iowa State matched its season high with 19.
The Cyclones’ 17.9-percent shooting (5 of 28) was their worst in a first half this season. So were their 18 points.
Lauren Coleman made her first three 3-pointers, matching her career high less than five minutes into the game, as the Seminoles got out to a 14-2 lead. The Cyclones missed 15 of their first 16 shots.
The Cyclones mostly held Howard in check early, with Christofferson the primary defender on the 6-3 senior forward. Howard was scoreless the first nine minutes, and she ended the half with six points and six rebounds.
”Iowa State played good defense on me. Give them credit,” Howard said. ”At the same time, it opened up my teammates to get shots.”