Created: 11/24/2013 4:35 PM
(AP) LOUISVILLE, Ky. - Florida State gave Louisville all it could handle for 40 minutes. It was the extra five where the Seminoles fell short.
Natasha Howard had 13 points and 14 rebounds before fouling out with 41 seconds left in regulation and the Seminoles lost 69-59 to the No. 4 Cardinals on Sunday.
"I think going on the road and playing a very good basketball team that’s had a lot of success, with a young team, a lot of things could have gone wrong," Florida State coach Sue Semrau said. "I was glad that a lot of things went right for us. I thought we did a great job of identifying shooters. We did a great job of rebounding the ball. We were able to score early, then we got in some droughts. But we’ll get better."
Florida State (4-1) jumped all over Louisville scoring 19 of the first 23 points before only holding a four-point halftime lead. They led by four late before the Cardinals rallied to tie it at 54 and force overtime.
Not bad for a team that lost four of five starters from last season.
"We did better than we expected," Howard said. "We knew it would be a tough road game, and we stuck together and we fought."
Louisville forward Asia Taylor scored six of her eight total points in overtime to secure the win for the Cardinals (6-0). Senior Shoni Schimmel powered the Cardinals with 21 points, including 5 of 14 shooting from 3-point range. Senior Antonita Slaughter added 10.
Delgado scored 10 of her 12 points after intermission and had a chance to win it for the Seminoles at the end of regulation. Her 3-point attempt missed and was rebounded by Jude Schimmel, who dribbled upcourt but couldn’t get off a shot in the final seconds.
FSU rallied from a 44-38 deficit to take a 54-50 lead with 1:14 left in regulation and appeared to be in control before Louisville’s Tia Gibbs made two free throws and Jude Schimmel made a key steal and layup to tie the game with 24.3 seconds left.
Louisville opened overtime with a 10-2 run including Taylor’s baskets and Slaughter’s layup before Schimmel sealed it with her fifth shot from beyond the arc.
While Louisville boasts immense depth, the Seminoles are a study in contrast. They lost all four of five starters and five seniors from last year’s 23-10 team.
A lack of experience didn’t show as Florida State took control early in the first half. With the score tied at 4, the Seminoles went on a 15-0 run capped by a three-pointer from Lauren Coleman.
Howard, a presence in the first half with nine points and seven rebounds, went to the bench after collecting her third foul with just over five minutes left. Louisville inched its way back into contention with a 9-3 run to close the half.
"We were pushing it (in the first half)," said Yashira Delgado, who added 12 points for the Seminoles. "Our defense was really good. We were stopping them. We were getting a lot of rebounds, and we weren’t giving them second chance points."
Howard returned to play intermittently in the second half and made several key plays, including a save three minutes into the half that helped the Seminoles keep a rally alive. She snatched a missed shot that was headed out of bounds and threw it over her head back to Brittany Brown. Florida State went up 34-30 on that possession when Coleman sank a three-pointer.
Howard tallied her fourth foul and returned to the sideline with 4:16 left.
"She’s a work horse," Semrau said of Howard. "I wish they’d give her a little bit more freedom to show her athleticism sometimes, because now you see the officiating where on the perimeter, they still have the ability to touch, but there is still so much in the interior. I’d like to see her have more freedom on the interior to move with her slight frame. She does so much for us."
As they have done all season, FSU has dominated scoring in the paint. They tallied 36 points inside compared to 26 for Louisville. The Seminoles also shot better: 40 percent compared to 36 percent for the Cardinals.
"They’re going to mix up their defenses and a young team can sometimes freeze and get paralyzed and look at each other," Semrau said. "I thought we did a good job continuing to move and find each other."