February 22, 2018 - by
Second Half Defense Spurs Noles to 67-39 Win

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) – Florida State was tested during the first half of Thursday’s game against Boston College. The final 20 minutes belonged to the Seminoles.

Nicki Ekhomu scored nine of her 17 points in the third quarter, and No. 9 Florida State pulled away from Boston College for a 67-39 victory.

“In the second half the way we played defense was the difference in the game,” Florida State coach Sue Semrau said. “I love that Boston College came in and put pressure on us during the first half. I thought we responded well to get the lead back.”

Florida State forced 12 turnovers and held Boston College to 26.3 percent (5 for 19) shooting in the second half. The Eagles were 5 of 11 on 3-pointers in the first half and 1 of 8 in the second.

“We got some good looks and shots in the first half, but Florida State did a good job of changing up their defense and pressuring us,” Boston College coach Erik Johnson said. “I didn’t like our shot selection in the second half. We took a lot of quick shots and they forced us into turnovers.”

The Seminoles (23-5, 11-4 Atlantic Coast Conference) grabbed control by outscoring the Eagles 22-7 in the third quarter. The score was tied at 29 when they pulled away with a 16-1 run, which included seven points by Ekhomu.

Ekhomu, a 5-fot-9 senior guard, led FSU in scoring for the second straight game.

“I just tried to give us a spark. I felt like we didn’t have any energy in the first half,” said Ekhomu, who is averaging 11.6 points over the past five games.

Imani Wright scored 12 points while Shakayla Thomas and AJ Alix added 11 apiece for Florida State, which led by as many as 29 in the fourth quarter.

Andie Anastos led the Eagles (7-21, 2-13) with nine points.

Boston College scored the first nine points of the game on three 3-pointers before Florida State countered by scoring the next 14. The Seminoles were up 20-13 with 7:41 remaining in the second quarter when the Eagles closed out the half with a 14-5 run.

• Nicki Ekhomu has led Florida State in scoring in two consecutive games.
• The Seminoles held Boston College to just 12 second-half points, the lowest by an opponent in the second half this season.
• Shakayla Thomas has reached 209 made field goals this season, three shy of matching last year’s total of 212. Thomas is the only Seminole with three seasons of 200+ made field goals.
• AJ Alix recorded her fourth double-double of the season, but her first using points and rebounds. Alix’s 11 boards were a career high while adding 11 points.
• Imani Wright has made multiple 3-point field goals in 19 consecutive games.
• Ekhomu’s seven made free throws is her most in an ACC game this season.
• For the third time in the last four games, FSU shot 50 percent or better from the floor (24-of-48 vs. BC). Included was a fourth quarter where it shot 7-of-10.
• FSU shut out the Eagles with zero second-chance points and out-scored B.C. 26-12 in points off turnovers.
• Thursday night was FSU’s RISE Unity Game that aimed to promote understanding, respect and equality through sport.
• Heading into Sunday’s ‘Senior Day’ game vs. Georgia Tech at 1 p.m., FSU and NC State remain tied at third in the ACC standings with 11-4 conference records (NC State holds the head-to-head tie-breaker).

Head Coach Sue Semrau
On the difference in the second half:
“Nicole was the difference in the game. Turning them over, turning those turnovers into good shots, and with her speed and athleticism, she helps us so much on the boards. When she plays like that we are a much better basketball team.”

On holding Boston College to twelve points in the second half:
“We tried to take a little bit of time off the clock and make them think. We knew where the shooters were, we communicated better, we moved great, and we rebounded. It was a great team effort.”

On whether or not that’s the angriest she’s been at halftime:
“No, not really. I know what this team is capable of. They’re a hard team to get angry with because I know how they can do it and it’s really just the choices that they make. I needed to be able to step up and really challenge a couple of people that needed to be challenged.”

On AJ Alix:
“I think one of the unsung heroes of this game was AJ Alix. She had 11 boards and her going to the glass on the offensive end really sparked us in a lot of different ways. I think she played a really great game.”

On the emotions of senior day coming up:
“It’s my 21st senior day, so I’m used to it, but it’s their first. Five seniors and four minutes to honor them goes pretty quick. To have family here and for Florida State to honor them and the role they played in this program is really important to us. At the same time, we have a game, and it’s Georgia Tech who is a really good team. We don’t have a lot of time for emotions except for the emotions of the game.”

Nicki Ekhomu
On the difficulty of facing an ACC team:
“The ACC is one of the harder conferences and everybody is coming to play. You can’t leave shots open.”

On how her mindset changed in the second half:
“I just tried to give my team some energy. After the first half, I felt like we didn’t have any, so I just wanted to go out and change that and make a comeback.”

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