SOUTH BEND, Ind. – No. 24/19 Florida State (20-4, 8-3) suffered its first road loss of the season to the fourth-ranked Notre Dame Fighting Irish (22-3, 9-2) in a 97-70 defeat at the Purcell Pavilion on Sunday. The loss snapped a four-game win streak by the Seminoles dating back to Jan. 27.
“They have the best outlet person in the country in Jessica Shepard and she just throws it and then Arike [Ogunbowale] is so fast with the basketball. They can make decisions really quickly,” Florida State Head Coach Sue Semrau said. “We needed to be in that kind of situation to learn what it’s going to take to be in that national championship picture. That’s something in the years to come that we’re really looking solidly at, so it was a really good opportunity for us.”
#Noles fall to 8-3 in the ACC.
We’ve got another big one at Clemson on Thursday. pic.twitter.com/Lddut4MLdF
— FSU Women’s Hoops (@fsuwbb) February 10, 2019
Florida State’s three juniors all scored in double figures on the afternoon. Nicki Ekhomu led the way with 26 points, besting her highest point total in conference play for the third straight game. Of her 26 points, 11 came from the free throw line, where she went a perfect 11-of-11. Ekhomu also led the Seminoles with six assists.
“She’s [Ekhomu] a special player and I think when things aren’t materializing, we know she can be somebody that steps up to score,” Semrau said. “She’s learning that she can do both in a game, both score and distribute.”
Forward Kiah Gillespie followed suit with 17 points while leading the Seminoles with 11 rebounds. The last of the Seminole juniors, Nausia Woolfolk, registered 15 points on the afternoon.
Freshman forward Valencia Myers and guard Morgan Jones rounded out the scoring for Florida State, each with six points. Myers led the Seminoles with two steals, while Jones registered a season-high with 30 minutes played on the afternoon.
The Seminoles battled with the Irish early, facing only a six-point deficit to end the first quarter. Notre Dame then went on a 13-3 run, led by Ogunbowale, to end the second quarter leaving Florida State facing a 52-38 deficit at the half.
The Fighting Irish built off their fourteen-point halftime lead with a 15-0 run to begin the second half, putting the game essentially out of reach for the Seminoles.
Notre Dame’s 97 points scored was the most given up by Florida State this season, the next closest being 71 in its win at Boston College on Jan. 17. Ogunbowale finished the day with 27 points, while Shepard registered 26.
“It’s the first time that any one of them had been in this situation and they needed to be in it,” Semrau said. “They needed to know how fast it is. They needed to understand how physical it needs to be as they continue to grow and mature in who they are and who this team is going to be.”
Florida State will look to bounce back when they travel to face the Clemson Tigers at Littlejohn Coliseum on Thursday, Feb. 14 at 7 p.m. The game will be streamed live on ACC Network Extra.