GREENSBORO, N.C. — The fourth-seeded Florida State Women’s Basketball team did not go down without a fight on Sunday afternoon, falling to No. 2 seed NC State, 71-66, in a battle at the Greensboro Coliseum for the ACC Tournament Championship title.
In a duel with 12 different lead changes, the matchup between two of the conference’s most talented programs kept fans on the edge of their seats for its entirety.
“It was a great championship game,” said head coach Sue Semrau. “The largest lead was only six points. I thought it was great for ACC Basketball. I’m very proud of my team. We just came up a little short. Congratulations to NC State and their head coach Wes Moore.”
Redshirt senior forward Kiah Gillespie gave the Wolfpack problems on both sides of the court for most of the afternoon, finishing with a game-high 25 points and nine rebounds as she nearly willed the Seminoles (24-8) to a comeback. After trailing by as much as six in the final period, the Meriden, Conn. Native fueled a 10-0 Seminole run with two clutch-three pointers and a free throw to jump back in front, 63-58.
The Wolfpack (28-4) responded and used their own 9-0 run to take a 67-63 lead. The last two minutes of the affair were back and forth trips to the foul line. Following two free throws from NC State’s Elissa Cunane, the Wolfpack led 71-66 with 13 seconds left.
FSU, however, was unable to convert on its next two offensive possessions as NC State salted the game away. Cunane and her teammate Aislinn Konig tied in leading the Wolfpack offense with 18 points each.
Down the stretch, the Seminoles made four of their six pressure free throw attempts. They went 11-of-14 from the line overall. NC State shot 17-of-24.
Senior point guard Nicki Ekhomu finished with 17 points, five rebounds, five assists, and was a perfect 5-of-5 from the free throw line. Senior guard Nausia Woolfolk scored 17 with four three-pointers and added four boards. The big three of Ekhomu, Woolfolk, and Gillespie combined for 59 of FSU’s 66 points.
Freshman guard Sammie Puisis hit two clutch three-pointers - one to tie up the game, 24-24, in the second quarter, and one to bring FSU to just a two-point deficit at 56-58 with five minutes left to play.
Florida State struggled to match the Wolfpack’s physicality on the glass, as NC State held a 41-30 rebounding advantage while grabbing 13 second chance points compared to the Noles’ nine.
Following the game, Woolfolk (first team), Gillespie (first team) and Ekhomu (second team) were named to the ACC All-Tournament Team.
The Seminoles await their NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament seeding. The Selection Show will be at 7 p.m. on Monday, March 16.