TALLAHASSEE, FLA. (Seminoles.com) – In their second meeting of the season on Samaritan’s Feet Night, No. 17 Florida State (21-10-5) took down ACC foe Wake Forest (13-14, 6-10) on Thursday evening, 78-67, at the Donald L. Tucker Center to secure the program’s sixth consecutive year of double-digit conference wins.
Head Coach Sue Semrau and her staff coached the game barefoot to raise awareness for the Samaritan’s Feet organization and its mission to provide shoes as the foundation of a spiritual and healthy life. FSU is now 8-2 in games dedicated to the cause.
With 2,771 fans in attendance, Semrau will round up to donate $3,000 towards Samaritan’s Feet.
“It really means a lot. This is the tenth year in a row that I have been able to bring awareness to an amazing cause. Manny (Ohonme) is here today with his son, and just what he means to me, and just watching his organization and understanding his story,” said Semrau. “There is nothing greater than to be able to take your eyes off basketball and put them on something that is so critical to people’s well-being. I will add the band in there, and I told them three grand was coming his way.”
In a back-and-forth first half, the Seminoles struggled against a tough Wake Forest defense, shooting just 20 percent in the opening quarter. The team rallied from a seven-point, second quarter deficit, fueled by back-to-back clutch three pointers from freshman guard Sammie Puisis to trail 30-29, at the break.
Florida State battled past the Demon Deacon defense to outscore their opponent 49-37 in the second half. Senior point guard Nicki Ekhomu led the comeback with 10 points and a 5-of-5 shooting performance in the third quarter, with 18 points scored after the break. FSU took the final lead with a bucket from sophomore guard Morgan Jones out of a timeout and capitalized on a 7-0 run to make it 46-41 with 15 minutes to play.
“I really like the team that I saw throughout the second half,” Semrau added. “I felt that we turned up our defensive intensity and that changed things. We were able to get some transition scores, and that is something that we have been working on the past couple games.”
FSU began the final quarter with a 52-46 advantage, and the Seminoles outlasted their opponent to secure a final 11-point triumph. They held Wake Forest to just 41 percent shooting for the game.
Four Seminole starters in Ekhomu (23), senior forward Kiah Gillespie (15), Jones (14) and senior guard Nausia Woolfolk (13) combined to score 65 of FSU’s 78 points.
In her fourth 20-point affair of the season, Ekhomu went 10-of-14 from the floor and added four rebounds and six assists in the win.
“I was just trying to be a leader and do what I can for my team. I felt like we needed points and stops, and I tried to get the points, and tried to find whoever was open and take what the defense was giving us,” Ekhomu added. “Like Coach Sue [Semrau] said this game was about defense, that is what we had to do, we had to find ways to get stops on defense”
Gillespie (5), Jones (5) and Woolfolk (2) all contributed on the glass, combining for 12 of FSU’s 29 rebounds.
Off the bench, freshman center River Baldwin added five points with two rebounds. Puisis was 2-of-4 from the bonusphere with six points and four boards in the triumph.
The Seminoles capitalized off of turnovers, with 19 takeaway points compared to Wake Forest’s 12.
Wake Forest was the beneficiary of a majority of foul calls on the night and earned almost a third of their points (20) from the line. Florida State made 8-of-11 free throws.
Up next, Florida State travels to Atlanta to face Georgia Tech on Sunday, Feb. 23 at 4 p.m. in its road regular-season finale. Fans can catch the matchup at Hank McCamish Pavilion on the ACC Network.