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February 17, 2019 - by Steve Stone Stifling Defense Trounces Pitt

Posted: 12:45 AM, Feb 18, 2019
Updated: 2019-02-18 05:45:00Z
February 17, 2019 - by Steve Stone Stifling Defense Trounces Pitt
February 17, 2019 - by Steve Stone Stifling Defense Trounces Pitt

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (Seminoles.com) – The No. 21/19 Florida State Women’s Basketball team got back to hanging their hats on the defensive end on Sunday. The Seminoles (21-5, 9-4) allowed an ACC opponent-low 30.5 percent shooting effort by Pitt in a 78-46 win on ‘Paint it Pink’ day at the Tucker Center.

Coupled with a staunch defensive showing was an efficient display on the offensive end, shooting 49.1 percent from the floor (28-of-57) and using a 28-point first quarter to break open the game early. FSU improves to 17-0 this season when it shoots 40 percent or better from the floor.

With pre-game emotions spilling out for the return of current Pitt head coach and 15-year FSU associate/assistant coach Lance White, the Seminoles came out with a locked-in mentality once the ball was tipped. Redshirt junior forward Kiah Gillespie recorded her ninth double-double of the season with 18 points and 10 boards while adding a career-high six assists.

“We talked a lot about our toughness, and I think it’s easy for a young team to settle in a little bit,” FSU head coach Sue Semrau said. “The last two days of practice they had been extremely locked in – they were tough. They came together and you could see it today.”

Sophomore Savannah Wilkinson’s hustle plays were noticed on Sunday. The London, England, native had eight points, seven rebounds, three steals and two blocked shots in 21 minutes. Her eight points is a season high for her in conference play.

“What Savannah did was completely change the tone,” Semrau said. “Her and Nausia going to the offensive glass, I thought was the difference in the game early. We hit some shots in the paint which was nice, but they’re a tough defensive team to figure out, and going to the offensive glass changes a lot of things.”

Freshman Valencia Myers contributed with 13 points, six rebounds and two blocked shots in 29 minutes of action. Myers went 5-of-5 from the floor, and her season total of 44 blocks is 14th on the FSU single-season list.

The Panthers were held to seven points in both the second and third quarters, struggling to score the basketball all afternoon. Pitt’s 46 points scored, 18 field goals made, seven assists and 16.7 percent shooting from deep were all season lows by an FSU opponent in conference play.

“All the injuries they’ve faced, it has changed the complexion of the way they’ve had to do it,” Pitt head coach Lance White said on FSU’s ability to get through the season with different challenges. “They’ve won a ton of games down the stretch, and when you have great one-on-one players you have the ability to do that.

“She’s (Coach Sue) done a great job with this group to put them in contention, get back to the tournament and all that stuff.”

The victory moves the Seminoles to the doorstep of another double-digit win season in ACC play, as they show a 9-4 conference record with four games remaining. Entering the year, only Louisville, Notre Dame, FSU and Syracuse had four consecutive seasons of 10+ wins in ACC play.

The win by the Seminoles also puts them in sole possession of fifth place in the ACC, sitting behind Notre Dame (10-2), Louisville (10-2), NC State (9-2) and Miami (10-2). Just behind FSU is sixth-place Syracuse (8-4) and seventh-place Clemson (8-5).

FSU dominated the glass on Sunday, recording 44 rebounds compared to Pitt’s 29. The Seminoles also continued their strong play of getting points off turnovers, out-scoring Pitt 24-8 in the category.

The Seminoles will try to sweep the season series over 20th-ranked Miami next Sunday at noon on the road on ESPN2. The Hurricanes are coming off a big 79-73 road win over second-ranked Louisville.