The University of Akron ran into Florida State University literally and figuratively Saturday afternoon at Rhodes Arena.
The Zips opened the game with a 7-0 run. Less than three minutes into the game, Seminoles forward Cierra Bravard ran into and pushed Zips guard Taylor Ruper to the floor. The foul (which looked inadvertent) and resulting technical allowed the Zips to take an 11-4 lead once Ruper made both foul shots.
Despite trailing three times by seven points, the Seminoles tied the game at 25-25 with 10:20 to go in the first half, and began to exert their control of the court en route to an easy 90-64 victory.
Bravard, a senior preseason All-America selection from Sandusky, scored a career-high 28 points and grabbed 12 rebounds for her second double-double of the year. Forward Natasha Howard, a sophomore from Toledo, also had a career-best day with 24 points and tied her career mark in rebounds with 13.
“We played good in the first half,” Zips coach Jodie Kest said. “But we didn’t match their intensity in the second half.”
Florida State’s size allowed the visitors to control the boards and the ability to score in the paint. The Seminoles attempted only six 3-point shots (to the Zips’ 22).
Chelsea Davis added 13 points for the Seminoles (5-5). Like Bravard and Howard, Davis made the most of her time inside the lane. Florida State scored 52 points in the paint.
“We had a mismatch inside, and they [the Seminoles] did a good job with their high-low offense,” Kest said.
Davis did not play in the first half. When she came off the bench with 13 minutes left in the game, she scored eight consecutive points, and opened the Seminoles’ lead to 58-45.
On the other end of the court, the 6-foot-4 Bravard and the 6-3 Howard forced Akron away from the basket.
Consequently, the Zips shot 31 percent from the floor compared with the Seminoles’ 55 percent.
The loss snapped Akron’s four-game win streak. Rachel Tecca (Archbishop Hoban) scored 21 points to lead Akron, which dropped to 5-4 overall. Ruper finished with 15 points, while Jasmine Mushington and Hanna Luburgh each added nine.
“If we play hard, and match the intensity we saw from them [FSU] today,” Kest said, “then there is no one on our schedule we can’t beat.”
The Zips will play at Duquesne at 7 p.m. Wednesday.