The No. 6 Florida State women’s basketball team defeated the Tulane Green Wave on Thursday night by a score of 78-72 at the Donald L. Tucker Center. The Seminoles came into the game without starting guards Leticia Romero and Emiah Bingley, meaning they would have to rely on their small forwards and post players to carry the scoring load.
The first quarter was a largely even contest, ending with a 19-18 score in FSU’s favor. Florida State continued to struggle with finding a shot and finished with a 32 percent field goal mark at the end of the quarter, compared to Tulane’s 39 percent. Shakayla Thomas was the leader on the offense with 11 points and four rebounds. The team had plenty of second chance opportunities with six offensive rebounds, but were only able to put up four points in said opportunities.
Despite improvements in the second quarter, the Seminoles couldn’t stop committing the errors that were inhibiting them. They shot 59 percent from the free throw line in the half, and that number was only raised from 52 percent after Rachel Antoniadou hit three right before the break. Florida State increased its rebounding margin lead to 26-19, but this didn’t necessarily lead to more points. FSU had five more offensive rebounds at this point, yet only had two more points. It led 39-36 at half.
Thomas led all scorers at half with 17 while Adut Bulgak led all rebounders with six. Kai James was the surprise player of the half with eight points and four rebounds. The Seminoles only had four assists at the half.
The Seminoles finally started heating up in the third quarter and got some slight breathing room with a 57-52 lead. Bulgak hit two three pointers and added in three free throws to almost double her scoring from the first half. However, the team still struggled with turnovers, committing eight in a 10-minute span. It had committed eight total in the first half.
An exciting fourth quarter concluded the game with a Seminoles victory after some clutch free throw shooting. Thomas added seven more while Tulane was constantly forced to shoot threes in order to keep pace. Overall, it was Florida State’s best period of the game, both defensively and offensively.
The issues Florida State experienced Thursday were largely expected when a team is missing two of its starting guards. Romero was the prime facilitator of the team, and it was clear that FSU had trouble finding an offense when its shooters went cold. Through the first three quarters, the Seminoles only had nine assists.
Thomas once again showed why she collected accolades as a freshman, going off for 26 points and 8 rebounds as the team’s lone consistent scoring option. Her explosive play quite clearly invigorates the team on both ends of the court. Her ability to shoot from mid-range and still bang with power forwards and centers is a very rare thing to have in college basketball.
Bulgak rebounded from a slow start by scoring 13 of her 18 points in the second half. She finished with a double-double after snatching up 10 rebounds. On the other hand, Maria Conde and Ivey Slaughter struggled to find their rhythms, going a combined 2-for-8 with seven turnovers. It is important to keep in mind that Conde is still a freshman from Spain that is learning the pace of the college game. Slaughter just seemed to be off Thursday, though she did contribute on the glass with nine boards.
Without taking too much away from Tulane, the Seminoles were clearly the better team Thursday even if the stat sheet doesn’t show it. It was often FSU shooting itself in the foot that led to close scores and frustrating stretches of game. The Green Wave were never really out of it thanks to their 47 percent 3-point mark, though they were dominated on the glass, by a margin of 51-32.
Florida State’s next game is Sunday at home against UAB at 5:00 P.M. eastern time. FSU shouldn’t have as much trouble as it did Thursday, but the issues with the guards will continue to persist as long as Romero and Bingley are sidelined.
Featured image courtesy of Joe Rondone/Tallahassee Democrat