TALLAHASSEE, FLA. (Seminoles.com) –The Florida State Women’s Basketball team did not disappoint in front of the home crowd on Sunday. The Seminoles continued the momentum following their latest performance against No. 5 Louisville to a contested 63-55 win over ACC opponent Virginia.
The game featured two of the more talented players in the conference in Virginia senior Jocelyn Willoughby and Florida State redshirt senior Kiah Gillespie. However, it was Gillespie that shined throughout the first half. Gillespie outperformed her counterparts, scoring 11 of her 22 points in the first quarter, and adding eight rebounds and two assists for the Seminoles.
“It was huge for us. Sometimes this team has the tendency to start slow, and like Coach Sue said, play to the level of our competition,” Gillespie said. “We did that a few times tonight, but I think we put out a great win. They’re a team that has really great players and they put together a 40-minute game, but I think we did a great job of executing this [game], and also getting back-to-back wins.”
Sophomore Kourtney Weber ended a short scoring drought for the Seminoles, providing a critical offensive rebound and put-back score halfway through the second quarter. The Seminoles responded to an early 7-0 run from Virginia, ending the half on a 9-2 run and securing a 33-25 advantage.
The second half would feature a much more balanced offensive outing, with three Seminoles (senior Nicki Ekhomu, Gillespie, and sophomore Morgan Jones) reaching double figures. Ekhomu finished with 11 points and added five assists, while Jones recorded a double-double, as she scored 11 points and grabbed 11 rebounds. The trio would combine for 44 of 63 points for the Seminoles.
The scoring onslaught was also a result of improved offensive execution in the half-court, that allowed Florida State to highlight its mismatch inside. Valencia Myers added six points and three rebounds, as the Seminoles’ front-court recorded 30 points and controlled the offensive boards with 14 rebounds.
Florida State’s defense limited Virginia to shooting just 36.8 percent from the floor, including 3-of-13 from 3-point range. Florida State is now 16-0 when holding opponents under 40 percent from the field. The Seminoles dominated the glass, out-rebounding their visitors by a 41-30 margin. The Seminoles’ suffocating defensive presence forced Virginia into 12 turnovers, this pressure was catalyzed by five blocks and three steals in the second half.
“A lot of times it becomes hard to maintain your focus and it was not as pretty as we wanted it to be, but we held them defensively [under 40%], we out-rebounded them [by over 10], and those are things that are really important to our program, especially in this time of year,” Florida State coach Sue Semrau added.
The win over Virginia marks Florida State’s eighth consecutive season with 20 or more wins. Florida State (20-4, 9-4 ACC) has a bye coming up for the Thursday slate of games; and remains in perfect position to continue to contend for the top spot in the ACC Standings. The Seminoles are now one conference win away from securing their sixth straight season with 10 or more ACC victories.
“It is something that we expect now,” Semrau said. “This team does not talk about getting to 20 wins, we talk about 25 and above. It’s nice having looked back, but with the caliber of players that are here now, they expect it; that’s why they come to Florida State.”
Florida State will be back in action on the road against ACC opponent, Duke, Sunday, Feb. 16. The game will be an ACC Network/ESPN2 flex game set to tip at 1 p.m.