WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. – Florida State withstood a fierce second-half rally on the road and turned back Wake Forest 70-65 Thursday night at Lawrence Joel Coliseum.
Freshman River Baldwin capped a 12-point performance by draining five of six free throw attempts in the final 90 seconds to hold the Demon Deacons in bay as the 14th-ranked Seminoles improved to 16-3 and 5-3 in ACC play.
Kiah Gillespie and Nicki Ekhomu scored 14 points each to lead the Noles. Kourtney Weber, making her first start since early in the season, scored nine points while Nausia Woolfolk and Valencia Myers added eight each.
Weber’s short baseline jumper with 35 seconds remaining gave the Noles a 67-61 lead, all but sealing the contest.
Wake Forest’s Ivan Raca led all scorers with 27 points as the Demon Deacons slipped to 11-8 (4-4).
“We needed to play more aggressively and I just felt like the group that started was the most aggressive in practice,” FSU coach Sue Semrau said. “We need to get back to that and making sure on the defensive end and rebounding we’re doing the things we need to do.”
The Noles won the battle of the boards 43-40 and held the Demon Deacons under 40 percent field goal shooting for the game. As an added bonus, the revised lineup gave Semrau ample firepower off the bench, and they delivered. FSU’s reserves outscored their counterparts 23-4.
“This is a really good Wake Forest team,” Semrau said. “We were tied with them in the ACC standings and we knew it was going to be a ballgame. I was really impressed with the way our energy started us out to get a 16-point lead going into the half.
“Now we just need to learn to put two halves together and play a 40-minute ballgame.”
Florida State led by as many 18 points in the first half and took at 35-19 lead into the locker room. Ekhomu led the way with 14 points after knocking down her first four 3-point attempts, a single-game career high.
FSU’s defense set the tone. The Demon Deacons missed 20 of 28 shot attempts and their 28.6 field goal percentage was the lowest of the season by an ACC opponent. Wake’s 19 points were also the fewest first half points since UNF managed just 14 back on Dec. 18.
The Noles return home to host Miami on Sunday at 2 p.m.
• Kourtney Weber returned to the starting lineup for the first time since starting each of the first three games this season. She joined Nausia Woolfolk, Kiah Gillespie, Morgan Jones and Ekhomu in the first new starting lineup since Nov. 17 vs. Samford;
• Ekhomu’s four 3-point field goals are a single-game career high.
• Valencia Myers and River Baldwin combined for 20 points, 15 rebounds and 3 blocked shots off the bench as the Noles reserves outscored the Demon Deacons bench 23-4.
• Myers collected a game-high and a season-high 10 rebounds and came up two points shy of her first double-double since she had 11 points and 14 rebounds against Penn State last season.