Florida State's Natasha Howard (33) shoots as Princeton's Kristen Helmstetter (32) and Lauren Polansky, right, defend in the first half of a first-round game in the women's NCAA college basketball tournament, Sunday, March 24, 2013, in Waco, Texas. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)
Sunday, March 24, 2013 11:34 pm
FSU ousts Princeton 60-44 in NCAAs
By SCHUYLER DIXONAP Sports Writer
Just 18 seconds after the Tigers pulled within a point at the end of a 10-0 run, Delgado hit a jumper to send the Seminoles on their way to a 60-44 victory on Sunday.
The win was FSU's 10th straight in the first round of the NCAA tournament and denied Princeton its first win in four straight NCAA tries as Ivy League champion.
Leonor Rodriguez and Morgan Toles each scored 12 points to lead eighth-seeded Florida State (23-9), which hasn't lost a first-round game since 1990 and will play Baylor, the No. 1 overall seed, in the second round on Tuesday.
But the catalyst was the 5-foot-2 Delgado, who made just her sixth 3-pointer of the season to give the Seminoles a 13-point lead late in the first half and ended up with 11 points - seven above her average - in just her third double-digit game of the season.
"I asked the kids back there what their favorite part of the game was," Florida State coach Sue Semrau said. "Cheetah said, `When they cut it to one.' Then she came back to hit the bucket that put us up three. I'm excited that she thrives on that."
Princeton standout Niveen Rasheed's NCAA shooting woes continued. Just a 36 percent shooter in her first two tournament games, Rasheed scored nine points on 3-of-15 shooting. She missed her first three free throws while Florida State was building a 12-point halftime lead and was just 3 of 7 from the line.
"They did a great job," Rasheed said. "But we didn't make our shots and took ourselves out of the game. It's kind of unfortunate letting ourselves down."
The ninth-seeded Tigers (22-7) faced a double-digit deficit because they were having such a hard time making shots - they finished 25 percent for the game.
But Princeton erased almost all of an 11-point Florida State lead with a 10-0 run capped by a 3-pointer from Blake Dietrick to cut the deficit to 38-37 midway through the second half.
Delgado, who spent a lot of time dribbling and looking for teammates while defenders sagged off her, had the ball on the left wing about 15 feet out and made the quick decision to score.
After Rasheed missed the rim on a shot near the free throw line, Toles hit the first of back-to-back jumpers to push the lead back to five.
The second basket by Toles started a 12-0 run by the Seminoles to take control for good. Rodriguez, Florida State's leading scorer, had a 3-pointer during the spurt and ended it with a three-point play and a 54-39 lead when she stole a pass and made a layup by flipping the ball in as she was falling to the floor after getting fouled.
"If it helped the team, I'm happy for it," Rodriguez said. "I think we had to get us some momentum to finish. I'm just happy with the win."
Princeton had more turnovers (19) than made baskets (17), and the Seminoles scored 22 points off those miscues.
The Tigers didn't have anyone score in double figures. Dietrick matched Rasheed with nine points.
"To be honest, even at halftime, we were only down by 12," Princeton coach Courtney Banghart said. "If felt like the way we were playing we should have been down by 112. I truly didn't think over a 40-minute game we could shoot that poorly that long."
The Seminoles took control in the first half by pressuring Princeton's perimeter players, knowing their inside players would make it tough around the rim for the shorter Tigers.
Those taller Florida State players were scoring from the outside, too. Chasity Clayton, a 6-foot forward, hit three perimeter shots and 6-3 Natasha Howard hit two more from outside in the first half. Clayton and Howard both finished with six points and six rebounds, and Howard added five blocks.
"We know how to involve a lot of our other players," Delgado said. "We have a lot of other scoring threats. We know to get it to the open man and make sure we hit the shots."
The Tigers had shown progress in their first three NCAA trips as Ivy League champions and were hopeful of getting that first win in the final seasons for Rasheed and backcourt mate and close friend Lauren Polansky.
Instead, their latest loss was a lot like their first two tournament games - double-digit defeats to teams from an East Coast power conference.
"It would be an understatement to say a really special senior class is gone," Banghart said. "Also disappointing is the way they went out. This obviously wasn't our best performance."