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Senior trio leads Noles to season sweep over Canes

Posted at 7:33 PM, Jan 26, 2020
and last updated 2020-01-26 19:33:37-05

TALLAHASSEE, Fl. — The No. 14 Florida State Women’s Basketball team (17-3, 6-3 in ACC) took their sixth consecutive home victory over the rival Hurricanes (11-9, 3-6 in ACC) with a 79-61 win this Sunday afternoon at the Donald L. Tucker Center. The triumph marks the eighth time the program has won at least 17 of its first 20 games.

Led by redshirt senior forward Kiah Gillespie’s nine points and three rebounds in the first quarter, Florida State established the pace of the game early with an eight-point lead.

"Yeah, this girl right here, man. It’s just hard. Everybody in the ACC just wants to double her and take away her opportunities and so fortunately she’s got great teammates who can score but she was four for four in the first half," FSU head coach Sue Semrau said of Gillespie. "We talked at halftime and we got to get her the ball, find ways to do it. They would switch out onto her and it just makes it tough.

"She found a way. She rebounded the ball and I’ve always loved seeing that. Just proud of our effort. Again, sometimes when you play a team the first time and you win down at their place, you think it’s going to be easy and it’s never easy when you are playing Miami. Credit to them. It was a big win for us."

The Hurricanes came back to tie the score at 22 in the second, but the Seminole offense responded by closing out the half on an 18-4 run. Senior point guard Nicki Ekhomu scored nine points during the spurt. Her 3-pointer with eight seconds remaining, followed by a made free throw gave Florida State a 40-26 advantage at the break.

The Seminoles held on to a double-digit lead for the entire second half. After a third quarter scoring drought that brought Miami within ten points, Florida State regrouped and came out of a timeout with a 5-0 scoring run. Forcing the Hurricanes into four turnovers in the third quarter alone, Ekhomu ended the period with a bucket at the buzzer to make it 59-42.

Turnovers also were an issue for the Seminoles as they gave the ball up 17 times, with eight of those coming in the final quarter. Miami took advantage and once again cut the lead to ten early in the fourth, but under pressure, the home team held on to outscore the in-state opponent 20-19 and solidify the eighteen-point victory.

Florida State turned ten Hurricane turnovers into 12 points, compared to Miami’s 11 points off of the Seminoles’ 17.

FSU shot 53.3 percent from the floor and 36.8 percent from beyond the arc, while holding Miami to just 36.9 percent shooting and 24 percent from the three-point line. They outrebounded the Hurricanes 39-to-27.

For the 11th time this season, three Seminoles seniors in Ekhomu (19), Gillespie (18) and Nausia Woolfolk (15) all scored in double figures to combine for 52 of FSU’s 79 points. Ekhomu led the team in scoring and added four assists. With ten rebounds, Gillespie earned her eighth double-double of the season. Woolfolk tacked on five rebounds and five assists in the win.

“My teammates were finding me," Gillespie added. "They were seeing I had a mismatch in the paint and I just delivered on the offensive end by making layups. That was a specialty for me this game because I blew like three or four against Wake Forest. I was just trying to put the ball in the basket and take my time being poised on the block.”

Off the bench, freshmen center River Baldwin (5) and guard Sammie Puisis (6) combined to add 11 points. Sophomore forward Valencia Myers totaled seven points and pulled down four rebounds.

Florida State continues a two-game homestand on Thursday, January 30, at 7 p.m. as it plays host to Boston College (10-9, 3-5 in ACC) at the Donald L. Tucker Center. The game will be televised on ACC Network Extra.