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In NCAA Tournament, Florida State women run into Samford team with similar experience

Guard Courtney Ward, one of Florida State’s two seniors, practices in preparation for today’s game against Samford in Auburn, Ala. It’s a short trip for the Seminoles, about 200 miles, but even shorter for the Bulldogs, just 110 miles away in Birmingham.

Associated Press

Guard Courtney Ward, one of Florida State’s two seniors, practices in preparation for today’s game against Samford in Auburn, Ala. It’s a short trip for the Seminoles, about 200 miles, but even shorter for the Bulldogs, just 110 miles away in Birmingham.

The Florida State women's basketball team heads into its seventh consecutive NCAA Tournament facing a Samford program making its debut in the 64-team field.

But in terms of regular-season playing experience, the teams are pretty even heading into their first-round matchup at 5 p.m. today in Auburn. Ala.

The Seminoles (23-7), seeded third in the Dallas Region, only have two seniors and one junior on their roster.

Junior forward Cierra Brevard, a first-team All-ACC selection, leads Florida State in scoring (14.6 points per game) and rebounding (7.6 average) and senior Courtney Ward leads in assists (3.9 a game) and steals (2.0).

The other senior on the roster, guard Christian Hunnicutt, was named the ACC defensive player of the year.

But the Seminoles also get key contributions from their other two starters, both underclassmen. Sophomore guard Alexa Deluzio (12.2 ppg) and freshman forward Natasha Howard (11.0) are among four Seminoles scoring in double figures.

Samford (25-7), the No. 14 seed and winner of the Southern Conference tournament, relies heavily on its only two seniors.

Guard Emily London leads the Bulldogs in scoring at 16.3 points a game and is second in rebounding (4.1 average) and assists (2.9). Forward Savannah Hill is second in scoring (12.5 average) and first in rebounding (6.3) and assists (4.1).

They are the only two scorers averaging double figures for Samford and have led or co-led the team in scoring in 29 of 32 games this season.

"Our two seniors wanted badly to get to the NCAA Tournament and be on the national scene for at least a couple of weeks," Samford coach Mike Morris told the school's website.

Samford will need a lot of production out of those two seniors today, as the Bulldogs are averaging 64 points a game, 10 fewer than FSU. The Seminoles also have a major advantage in rebounding (42-31 on average) and steals (8-2).

If Florida State has a weak spot it's ballhandling; the team is ranked 200th of 333 Division I teams in assist-to-turnover ratio and is averaging 18.6 turnovers a game.

In NCAA Tournament, Florida State women run into Samford team with similar experience 03/19/11 [Last modified: Saturday, March 19, 2011 11:25pm]

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