A season-best 23 turnovers forced on the defensive end helped Florida State Women’s Basketball get past Pittsburgh, 67-53, on Sunday afternoon at the Donald L. Tucker Center.
“(It was) very important,” FSU Interim Head Coach Brooke Wyckoff said of the 23 turnovers forced. “When we allowed them to score they would press us. If we were able to get a defensive rebound or force a turnover, that led to easier offense. That’s a good sign defensively. I wished we grabbed a few more rebounds on the defensive end but that’s OK, we’ll work on that.”
Facing the much-improved Panthers, the Seminoles (3-1, 2-1) set the tone from the start by forcing eight turnovers in the first quarter. A big part of FSU’s day on both sides of the court was junior guard Kourtney Weber, who delivered another game high in points with 19 and tied her career high with five rebounds. She added three assists and three steals in another stellar all-around day.
Weber scored 15 of her 19 points in the first half, helping FSU to a 34-20 lead at the break. But after the Panthers (3-3, 1-2) used a late basket to cut the lead to 14 at the half, it carried a 12-0 run over to the start of the third quarter after mixing in pressure on made baskets and forcing the Seminoles into turnovers of their own.
The response by FSU leading just 34-32 was the turning point in the game. With the help of steady point guard play from Bianca Jackson (13 points, six rebounds), the Seminoles returned with a 17-3 run to close out the third quarter and create some much-needed distance on the scoreboard.
“We finally started getting some stops,” Wyckoff added about the momentum-turning run. “When they were scoring they were always up and pressing us in full court, which slowed us down. What we do best is get a stop, get out in transition and run. Once we were finally able to get stops and wake up, that translated into some easier offense for us.”
Sammie Puisis, Sara Bejedi and River Baldwin each chipped in with seven points apiece, as Baldwin drew a team-best five fouls. Ball-handling was at its most important on Sunday as former FSU Associate Head Coach Lance White mixed in several pressure defenses.
“It was great to see him. I wish him the very best,” Wyckoff said of White, who she coached with for seven years (2011-18) at FSU. “He’s doing a great thing, despite the loss today, he’s building and you can see that.”
Florida State was out-rebounded for the first time this season, as the Panthers corralled 47 boards compared to FSU’s 38. FSU’s bench provided a boost by out-scoring Pitt 17-9.
The Seminoles held Pitt to just 30.4 percent from the field, while FSU shot 42.9 percent. FSU was bolstered by a good second half from the floor, going 11-of-22.
Pitt was led by sophomore guard Dayshanette Harris, who scored 18 points on 7-of-14 shooting. FSU held Jayla Everett, one of the ACC’s top scorers, to eight points on 3-of-14 shooting.