Florida State pounds Miami to keep ACC regular-season title hopes alive

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- Slow starts make Florida State coach Sue Semrau more than a little nervous.

For the second time in four nights, the ninth-ranked Seminoles fell behind by double digits in the first half before winning their seventh straight game with an 87-62 victory over Miami on Thursday.

"I guess we're a team that really feels things out," Semrau said. "I don't like it, they [players] don't like it. We'll keep trying to solve the problem."

Senior center Jacinta Monroe and a pair of hot-shooting guards provided the answers this time.

Monroe scored a season-high 23 points and grabbed 11 rebounds to lead the Seminoles, keeping their hopes alive for a second straight Atlantic Coast Conference regular-season title.

Florida State (25-4, 11-2 ACC) needs to win Sunday at Maryland and have first-place Duke lose one of its final two games to catch the Blue Devils.

"All we're worried about is taking care of business Sunday," Semrau said.

Monroe left Thursday's game with 2:31 remaining with her 22nd career double-double and sixth this season but a point shy of her career high.

"It didn't bother me," Monroe said. "Points don't really matter to me, I just want to win."

Semrau, however, didn't know that her star player was a field goal shy.

"I wish I'd have known," Semrau said. "I wanted her to have an ovation, that's for sure. It's kind of cool, it's about team and for her. She could care less."

Monroe dominated the defensive boards with nine of her rebounds and she hit 10-of-13 shots, including several mid-range jumpers.

"Monroe earned hers," Miami coach Katie Meier said. "Monroe adjusted her game and you've got to tip your hat to that."

Courtney Ward and Alysha Harvin added 18 points each for the Seminoles, combining to make 9-of-15 shots from 3-point range.

The Seminoles rallied from a 12-point deficit, 24-12, in the first half to lead 41-37 at halftime on their way to avenging a 78-70 loss Jan. 10 in Miami.

Riquana Williams came off the bench to lead Miami (16-12, 3-10) with 22 points. Stefanie Yderstrom added 16 and Shenise Johnson had 11.

Florida State has won seven straight and 11 of 12 since being upset by the Hurricanes, with an average margin of victory just under 20 points a game during that span.

The Hurricanes built their early lead on a 15-point outburst by Williams in just 3:29 that keyed a 22-6 run.

"She's special," Semrau said. "She got 27 on us down there."

But then Florida State took over behind the outside marksmanship of Ward and Harvin and the steady inside play of the 6-foot-5 Monroe.

Ward and Monroe led a 27-9 run by Florida State that gave the Seminoles their largest lead of the half at 39-33. Ward scored 15 points and Monroe 11 in the half, missing just once between them.

Despite sitting out seven minutes after getting two early fouls, Ward drilled all five of her field-goal tries, including three from 3-point range, while Monroe was 4-for-5 from the floor.

Ward, who scored 29 points in Monday's win at Virginia, led the Seminoles with four assists.

Chasity Clayton's steal and layup gave the Seminoles the lead for good at 31-29. She had tied it seconds earlier hitting the second of two free-throw tries.

"We've been a great team of staying together when things get tough," Harvin said. "We try to stay together and keep motivating each other."

The Seminoles trailed Virginia by 16 Monday before rallying for a 59-58 win.

Florida State's three seniors -- Monroe, Harvin and Angel Gray -- were honored in pregame ceremonies in their final regular-season game.