The Press Newspaper
For the second consecutive season, Florida State senior forward Natasha Howard (Waite) has earned All-ACC First Team honors as selected by the Blue Ribbon Panel, announced on Tuesday by the league.
The first-team honor that comes in arguably the top conference in women’s college basketball adds another piece of history for the Toledo, Ohio, native. Howard’s selection to the 2013-14 All-ACC First Team makes her the first Seminole in the ACC era (1992-Present) to earn multiple first team honors. Last season, she was chosen for the first team by the Blue Ribbon Panel and second team by the ACC head coaches.
“Natasha has been spectacular this season,” FSU head coach Sue Semrau said. “I’m so proud of the way she has worked to make herself one of the best players in the country. Natasha is very deserving of all the recognition that she gets because of how dedicated she is to the game, and it’s been a pleasure to watch her lead us this season. Her will to win and unselfish play have been critical to our team’s success.”
Howard joins only two players in FSU women’s basketball history in making multiple all-conference first teams. FSU Athletics Hall of Famers Bev Burnett (1988, 1989) and Wanda Burns (1990, 1991) garnered first-team selections as members of the Metro Conference.
Howard’s all-conference pick is the 40th time an FSU player has earned all-ACC accolades, which includes rookie team selections.
A Senior CLASS Award finalist and candidate for the Wade Trophy, Howard has enjoyed an extraordinary final year at Florida State. She is the only player in the conference who ranks in the Top 10 in scoring, rebounding, field goal percentage, steals and blocked shots.
Howard is on pace to average the highest amount of points per game at Florida State since Burnett averaged 21.3 points in the 1987-88 season. In conference play she has taken her game to another level when the competition has been even tougher, averaging 23.3 points, 9.6 rebounds and 58.2 percent from the floor.
This season, Howard has four games of 30 points or more, all in ACC play. According to the latest NCAA statistics, the only other players with four or more 30-point games against conference competition are FIU’s Jerica Coley (6), Baylor’s Odyssey Sims (5) and UT-Martin’s Heather Butler (4).
The hard-working senior ranks in the NCAA Top 50 in several categories, including field goal percentage (sixth), scoring (23rd), blocks per game (30th), points per game (30th) and double-doubles.
Unbeaten Notre Dame, which will enter this week’s ACC Women’s Tournament as the No. 1 seed, led the way with three total selections. The Fighting Irish guard tandem of senior Kayla McBride and sophomore Jewel Loyd were voted to the first team, while senior forward Natalie Achonwa is a second-team honoree.
Four first-team players from last season are repeat selections this year in two-time ACC Player of the Year Alyssa Thomas of Maryland, Duke junior Elizabeth Williams, Howard and Georgia Tech senior Tyaunna Marshall. Duke’s Tricia Liston, a second-team selection in 2013, was named to this year’s All-ACC first team.
Rounding out the 10-member first team are North Carolina freshman Diamond DeShields, NC State senior Markeisha Gatling and Wake Forest junior Dearica Hamby.
Joining Notre Dame’s Achonwa on the second team are NC State senior Kody Burke, Georgia Tech freshman Kaela Davis, Syracuse sophomore Brittney Sykes and Virginia Tech senior Uju Ugoka.
The ACC will announce its Player, Freshman and Coach of the Year as selected by the Blue Ribbon Panel on Wednesday, March 5. The Defensive and Sixth Player of Year will also be announced that same day.
Player of the Week
The Toledo native and All-America candidate was dominant against Georgia Tech and Virginia this past week. Howard averaged 33.5 points, 9.5 rebounds, shot 64.1 percent from the floor and added six steals as Florida State went 1-1 for the week. Howard had 34 points on 11-of-16 shooting against Georgia Tech, then dropped 33 points on 14-of-23 shooting against Virginia.
In the process, Howard became the first Seminole to post four 30-point games in a season, all against ACC foes. On Senior Day against the Cavaliers, she also became the third Seminole to grab 1,000 rebounds (the first as an ACC player) and added 11 rebounds to become FSU’s single-season leader for double-doubles with 13.
Howard notched 41 of her 67 points this week in the second half, recording 19 against the Yellow Jackets and 22 versus Virginia when Florida State needed to make a push at the end. Another big week for the Senior CLASS Award finalist elevates her ACC scoring average to 23.3 points per game. Over Howard’s last six games, all against ACC teams, she has averaged 29.7 points, 9.7 boards and shot 63 percent from the field.
The 6-foot-3 senior is now the third Seminole to record multiple ACC Player of the Week honors in her career. She joins former players Latavia Coleman and Roneeka Hodges, who each won ACC Player of the Week honors in 1999-2000 and 2004-05, respectively.
The conference accolade is Howard’s second of her career, as she also was named ACC Player of the Week on Nov. 19, 2012, after averaging 20.5 points, 10.5 rebounds and three steals in victories over Florida and Stetson.
Howard and the No. 9 seed Seminoles begin play in the ACC Tournament on Thursday, March 6, against No. 8 seed Miami in the second around at 2 p.m. For the 15th straight year the entire tournament will be played at the Greensboro Coliseum in Greensboro, N.C.
Florida State fans can purchase tickets to the upcoming ACC Tournament by calling the FSU ticket office at 888-FSU-NOLE.
For more information on Florida State women's basketball, follow the Seminoles on Twitter at @FSU_WBasketball and like their official Facebook page (Facebook.com/FSUWomensBasketball).
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