TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (Seminoles.com) – It was Kiah Gillespie’s show on Saturday afternoon at the Donald L. Tucker Center. The redshirt junior forward posted team highs with 25 points, 12 rebounds and four assists as No. 25 Florida State Women’s Hoops defeated Georgia State 79-43.
Saturday’s final non-conference game of the regular season was the Seminoles’ (12-1) first this season as a ranked team. It was Gillespie who was out to prove why FSU should maintain its spot in the Top 25. However, through three quarters the game did not come easy.
“We have made a lot of progress, but we still have a way to go,” Gillespie said post-game. “I think right now we are a second half team and I think once we get past that, we are going to be a really great team. I think we have grown in communication and our ability to play together as a team. I think we are starting to jell right now and that’s the best part about it.”
FSU needed an impressive 32-5 scoring onslaught in the fourth quarter to fully put Saturday’s game out of reach. Gillespie added her 12th double-figure game of the year, her fifth double-double and her sixth 20-point game of the season.
FSU was not able to duplicate its last outing where it made a program-record 15 3-point field goals. Beyond the arc was its weakness against the Panthers (6-5), going 3-of-21 from deep. But its 16-of-17 shooting from the free throw line, getting 16 second-chance points and out-rebounding Georgia State 46-28 ensured that the Seminoles could win in other ways.
“We expected coming off a seven-day layoff that we would have some rust, and I didn’t know if I needed to go into half tearing into them or just telling them it’s going to be okay,” FSU head coach Sue Semrau said after leading 28-26 at the half.
“I did a little bit of both and I think they responded really well. We played defense in the second half and that was the difference. They only scored 26 points in the first half, but for us we were being lazy because we were concerned with what was happening on the offensive end.”
FSU shot 47.6 percent from the floor, including a blistering 84.6 percent (11-of-13) in the fourth quarter. Junior guard Nausia Woolfolk added 14 points, FSU’s other double-figure scorer, and also had four steals.
Sophomore Savannah Wilkinson pulled down a career-high nine rebounds in 25 strong minutes of play. FSU’s team rebounding satisfied Semrau, who understands the importance of every possession with conference play coming up.
“Defense is how you win in the ACC and especially on the road,” Semrau added. “You have to defend and challenge them for rebounds and we did just that. We had 46 rebounds and were able to outrebound them by 20, and that is key in what we are about to go into with the start of ACC play.”
FSU’s win extends its win streak to eight games, and it enters ACC play with just one non-conference loss for the sixth time in the last seven seasons.
The ACC opener is on Thursday, Jan. 3, at Virginia at 7 p.m. on the ACC Network Extra.