Florida State (6-0) defeated Florida (4-2) by a 66-55 score tonight in Gainesville.
FSU started out strong jumping out to a 12-4 lead after a jumper from Valencia Myers. The Gators responded with four quick points before Nicki Ekhomu hit a triple to give the Seminoles a 15-8 lead halfway through the first quarter. Ekhomu’s shot sparked the Noles to a 9-0 run that was eventually broken by a Lavender Briggs three but the Seminoles still held a 21-11 lead with 2:33 left in the quarter. From there the two teams traded baskets and FSU held a 25-16 lead going into the second quarter.
UF started the second with a quick 6-0 run that was capped by a Zada Williams layup. The Seminoles responded with an 8-0 run of their own that was sparked by a Nicki Ekhomu jumper. However, Florida answered by scoring nine of the last twelve points in the half to cut FSU’s lead to 36-31 at halftime.
The Gators continued with their momentum early in the second half. They hit FSU with a 7-2 run to begin the half to draw even with the Noles at 38. FSU responded with a 7-0 run that was capped by a layup from Morgan Jones. However, UF refused to go away. The Gators ended the quarter on a 6-1 run to cut FSU’s lead to 46-44 going into the last stanza.
Kiah Gillespie scored the first five points of the quarter to give FSU a 51-44 advantage. From there the two teams mostly traded baskets until Florida State finally put the game away with an 8-3 run that started with 3:12 left in the game. In the run the Big 3 (Kiah Gillespie, Nicki Ekhomu and Nausia Woolfolk) scored all of the points to ice the game and the Noles walked away with a 66-55 victory.
Kiah Gillespie had a big time double-double (17pts, 18reb) to lead the Noles. Nicki Ekhomu had 15 points, five assists and four boards. Valencia Myers was the only other Nole in double figures with 10 points and six rebounds.
FSU didn’t shoot well tonight (23% 3PT, 3-10 FT) but the Noles held UF to low shooting (33% FG, 24% 3PT) and FSU was able to win the rebounding battle 47-41.
The Noles really needed a tough game like this to get them ready for the rest of the season. FSU has played a Charmin soft schedule up to this point (SOS is 259th) so they need to play good teams to find out about themselves. FSU has looked really good against this opposition, but the schedule quickly ramps up from here. The Seminoles face No. 6 Texas A&M and No. 15 Michigan State in their next two games. We’ll learn a lot more about them in these games.
With the win, FSU has a four-game win streak against Florida. Gillespie, Ekhomu, and Woolfolk finish their careers never knowing what it’s like to lose to the Gators (same as Trent Forrest).
FSU only had nine players available for this game. Sayawni Lassiter (injury), Izabela Nicoletti (injury) and Bianca Jackson (transfer rules) will miss the season. Amaya Brown is still recovering from last year’s torn ACL, but she should be back later this season. Savannah Wilkinson was wearing a boot on the sideline, but she should also be able to return this season, as well.
Florida State travels to Fort Worth, TX to face the Texas A&M Aggies (4-0) on Sunday, Dec 1st in the Maggie Dixon Classic. The game will tip at 8:30pm and will be broadcast on FS1.