Sammie Puisis has the green light to take 3s from anywhere. Even well beyond the arc.
In just a season plus 10 games of her sophomore year, Puisis has drilled 70 3-pointers — tied for second-most 3s to reach that plateau to start a Florida State career. On Thursday, in a 61-51 win at UNC, Puisis hit a deep 3-pointer and had eight points in the Seminoles’ win.
“The coaches and players both give me confidence to do that,” Puisis said. “And I don’t get many shots that’s right beyond the arc. Those are the shots that are open that I got to take, so they are a lot deeper.”
Puisis is still a streaky jump shooter, but when she’s on the 6-foot-1 guard/forward has led FSU to wins this year. She was 5 of 9 from long range in a win at Virginia Tech and then 5 of 12 in a home overtime victory vs. Clemson. Perhaps more impressive: Puisis didn’t leave the court in the win over the Tigers, playing all 50 minutes.
While Puisis is making just 32.3 percent of her shots from 3-point range, it’s quite clear that when she’s on FSU is, too. Her ability to make 3s, as well as teammates doing the same, can break zone defenses and open up the court.
“It helps tremendously, with me being able to shoot deep, it opens up driving lanes, the posts can get the ball, I always am on the same side as someone attacking, so my player doesn’t help or if they do help, they can kick out to me,” Puisis said. “So it does help make a huge difference.”
FSU (6-4, 5-4 ACC) now travels to Miami (7-7, 4-7) on Sunday at 1 p.m. (ESPNU). It will be the first of two matchups in eight days as the Hurricanes return to Tallahassee on Feb. 14. FSU has won 12 of their past 13 regular-season meetings vs. Miami.
The Seminoles had a week off between a 14-point road loss to Wake Forest on Jan. 28 as they prepared for a road trip to UNC.
Rebounding and defense have been an emphasis for Florida State women’s basketball for decades. FSU lost the battle on the boards 47-42 to the Tar Heels but the aggression was obvious: Morgan Jones had 10 rebounds and Puisis added nine. The defense? FSU held UNC to just 19 of 69 (27.5 percent) from the floor.
FSU has been shorthanded, using just eight players in a number of recent games. Guard Kourtney Weber (ankle) missed the UNC game and is questionable for the Miami game. Graduate transfer guard Tiana England has been medically cleared for practice but her timetable to play isn’t known yet.
The Seminoles have also been fighting a battle simply to play games. The team was in the COVID protocol in early January and has seen a dozen games canceled or postponed, which is more than the 10 games they’ve played.
For a team looking to get on the court, and build chemistry this has been a challenge considering the volume of games other teams have played. The Hurricanes have played 14, while the best teams in the ACC have played far more games: Louisville is 17-1, NC State is 12-1, Georgia Tech is 11-3 and Syracuse is 10-4. The Seminoles have made the best of the time on court.
“I just think that going hard in practice really makes up for all those missed games, playing hard against the scout team and the coaches preparing us well,” Jones said. “I think that that’s been a key factor in being able to win games.”