TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL) — The Florida State Women’s Basketball team was able to get its fifth consecutive win against Florida on Tuesday evening, as the Noles open their season with an 81-75 victory over the Gators in the Donald L. Tucker Center.
The five-game winning streak against the Gators (1-1) is the Noles’ (1-0) longest against them since 1978-1980. The win also puts the Noles at a 24-5 record against UF and Miami over the last 29 games.
Interim head coach Brooke Wyckoff also recorded her first career win as a head coach after replacing Coach Sue Semrau, who is assisting her mother in her battle against cancer and decided to take a leave of absence for the 2020-21 season.
“I’m just so proud [of the team], not only for tonight but after six-plus months of uncertainty and adversity; for them to just push through and come out with great attitudes,” said Coach Wyckoff after tonight’s win. “Whatever came their way, they just confronted it and overcame it. I just can’t say enough about these kids and how they’ve shown who they are as people and basketball players.”
Junior Morgan Jones led the team with a career-high of 24 points, in which her previous career high was 16 against Miami last season, and shot 10 for 17 from the floor. She was also able to tally up seven rebounds and three blocks in her career night against the Gators.
“We have pride for this school and have pride playing against Florida, so it was a big win for us,” Jones said. “We were locked in from the jump.”
Sophomore Sammie Puisis and junior Valencia Myers also had stellar nights in tonight’s win. Puisis was able to bring down a career-high eight rebounds and Myers recorded a double-double with 14 points and 11 rebounds.
One of the focal points in tonight’s game was that the Seminoles out-rebounded the Gators by almost double the amount at 52-24.
“There was a huge emphasis [on rebounding] and I’ve got to give credit to Coach Sue,” Coach Wyckoff added. “That is Coach Sue’s number one cornerstone of what we do; that we are phenomenal rebounders. She’s had some amazing rebounding teams and tonight was no different.”
Along with out-rebounding the Gators, the Noles out-shot them from the field at 45-42 percent and out-scored them in the paint at 38-28. The Noles were also 13 for 14 at the free throw line in the 2nd half.
Florida State started the game off hot, with Jones making a pair of layups to take an early six-point lead. Florida was able to bounce back quickly and make five straight baskets from the floor to take a 22-16 lead at the end of the first quarter. Sophomore Lavender Briggs scored nine points for the Gators in that run.
After falling down to an eight-point deficit early in the second quarter, the Noles were able to answer back with six straight made baskets of their own and locked the score 30-30 in the second quarter. The lead shifted back and forth late in the second quarter until redshirt junior Savannah Wilkinson made a jumper at the buzzer to give the Noles a two-point lead at the half.
For most of the third quarter, Florida State was able to set the pace and maintain the lead. Eight points from redshirt junior Bianca Jackson, along with a made basket and free throw from Jones at end of the quarter, put the Noles lead at 59-54 going into the fourth quarter.
The Noles were able to expand their lead to a game-high 11 points in the fourth quarter, but the Gators were able to pull it within five with back-to-back three pointers late in the game. Florida had a chance to pull within one-possession, but a crucial offensive rebound by junior Kourtney Weber followed by a clutch layup by Jones put them out of striking distance and pushed the Noles to a six-point victory.
Florida State returns with a home matchup on Sunday vs. Austin Peay at 2 p.m. The game will air on ACC Network Extra.