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FSU women’s basketball holds on to defeat Virginia

The Noles get their first ACC win of the year.

NCAA Womens Basketball: ACC Tournament Notre Dame vs Florida State Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports

Florida State (13-1, 1-0 ACC) defeated Virginia (6-8, 0-1 ACC) by a 63-61 score tonight in Charlottesville, VA.

Game Recap

The game started off even as the teams traded buckets in the beginning. However, FSU made a move with about five minutes left in the period. The Noles hit UVA with a 10-1 run that was capped by a Nausia Woolfolk jumper. Dominique Toussaint came down and hit a fadeaway jumper on the ensuing possession to beat the clock but the Seminoles still enjoyed a 16-10 lead to end the first quarter.

In the second quarter the Hoos fought back with a run of their own. Virginia went on a 10-3 run that was capped by a Brianna Tinsley jumper. The run gave the Cavaliers a 20-19 lead. Nicki Ekhomu answered with a triple to take the lead back for FSU. From there the two teams mostly traded baskets and the Noles took a 26-25 lead into halftime.

In the third quarter, UVA came out strong and managed to take a 35-30 lead on a Jocelyn Willoughby layup. Nausia Woolfolk answered on the very next possession with a three ball. After that the two teams traded baskets until Brianna Tinsley made a pair of free throws to put UVA up 47-43. FSU came down with a chance to take the last shot but Toussaint stole the ball from Ekhomu and passed it to Tinsley who made a layup to beat the buzzer and give the Hoos a 49-43 lead going into the fourth quarter.

In the fourth quarter tri-captain Kiah Gillespie put Florida State on her back. The redshirt junior either scored or assisted on FSU’s first eight points of the quarter and the Noles found themselves tied at 51. From there the two teams mostly traded baskets until with 1:41 left in the game Kourtney Weber came down and drained a big three to put FSU up 61-59. Toussaint then tied the game with a jumper. Then came the play of the game. With about 55 seconds left Ekhomu drove the lane and missed a runner. Valencia Myers got the offensive board and passed back to Woolfolk for an open three. Woolfolk missed but Gillespie hustled after it and saved it from going out of bounds. She was able to contort her body in the air to pass it to an open Woolfolk at the free throw line. Woolfolk’s feet had barely touched the floor before she passed to an open Myers on the block who laid it in to give the Noles a 63-61 lead. The play featured outstanding hustle by Gillespie and amazing awareness by Woolfolk to find Myers.

Virginia was down two with 46 seconds left. Tinsley took a three but it was partially blocked by Myers and Gillespie caught it to preserve possession for FSU. The Noles just barely got the ball over half court and then ran clock until Myers airballed a contested jumper in the lane and FSU was guilty of a shot clock violation. UVA called timeout and advanced the ball with 4.1 seconds left. Nicki Ekhomu came up with a big defensive play stealing the in bounds pass from Khyasia Caldwell to preserve the 63-61 win for Florida State.

Post Game

FSU was led by Kiah Gillespie’s double-double (19pts, 11reb). Kourtney Weber and Nausia Woolfolk chipped in 13 points apiece.

The Noles came back in the fourth because they finally figured out that Gillespie was the best player on the floor. When FSU started running their offense through her they came back in the fourth quarter. It’s good that they finally came to the correct conclusion but it would have been nice to see Gillespie get more touches sooner.

This was a classic glass half full or half empty game. On one hand FSU just barely got a win against a 6-8 Virginia team that is clearly rebuilding under first year coach Tina Thompson. On the other hand, the Noles gutted out a tough ACC win on the road in a game where they only shot 6-21 from three.

I’m team glass half full. FSU came back in an ACC road game when the opponent had the lead and all of the momentum going into the final quarter. Games like these will help the young Noles grow up quickly. Even though UVA is below .500 this was an important game. FSU can’t drop a game like this if they want to have any hope of securing a top 4 NCAA seed.

Next Game

Florida State will travel to Chapel Hill to face North Carolina (9-6, 0-1 ACC) on Sunday at 1pm. The game will be broadcast on Fox Sports Network. The Heels lost 73-66 tonight in Louisville.