(21) Florida State (20-5, 8-4 ACC) was defeated at Clemson (16-9, 7-5 ACC) tonight by a 73-68 score.
Clemson started the game out strong with a quick 6-0 run. FSU responded with a 7-0 run that was capped by a Sayawni Lassiter triple. The teams mostly traded baskets after that but the Tigers ended the quarter on a 5-2 run to take a 15-12 lead after the first quarter.
Simone Westbrook and Nausia Woolfolk started the second quarter by trading layups. Woolfolk’s layup sparked a 6-0 Nole run that was ended by a Keniece Purvis layup. The Noles later went on a 7-2 run that was capped by a three ball from Nicki Ekhomu to put FSU up 25-21. After that the teams traded buckets and Florida State went into the locker room with a 32-30 advantage.
The Tigers quickly erased that lead with a 7-2 run to start the third quarter. The two teams then traded baskets until Clemson broke out with a 9-2 run that was sparked by a layup from Westbrook. Clemson was up 46-38 after the run. Ekhomu ended it with a big triple. After a jumper from Danielle Edwards, Woolfolk buried a three for FSU. Clemson answered with a 7-0 run to take a 55-44 lead. Ekhomu ended the quarter with a jumper to beat the clock but the Tigers had a 55-46 lead going into the fourth quarter.
Ekhomu continued her strong play in the fourth. She scored the first five points for the Seminoles. However, Kobi Thornton had four points for Clemson in the stretch and Clemson maintained a 59-51 lead. From there the teams traded free throws. Kiah Gillespie scored four straight for the Noles but Edwards answered with a layup to give Clemson a 63-58 lead. The teams traded free throws again until Edwards hit a triple to give the Tigers a 68-61 lead with 2:30 left in the game. Ekhomu answered with a three of her own to cut the lead to 68-64. With a minute left Ekhomu hit two free throws to pull the Seminoles to within two at 69-67. On the ensuing possession Tylar Bennett hit a midrange jumper to increase Clemson’s lead to 71-67 with only 31 seconds left. Gillespie was fouled on the next possession. She hit one of two and FSU was down 71-68 with 19 seconds left. The Noles pressured the Tigers in the backcourt but Clemson was able to beat the 10 second count and FSU was forced to foul. Edwards went to the line and she buried a pair to give Clemson the final lead of 73-68.
Nicki Ekhomu led FSU with 27 points. Nausia Woolfolk had 18 points and seven rebounds. Kiah Gillespie and Morgan Jones had 10 apiece for FSU.
Woolfolk came off the bench for the first time this season. The official reason was coach’s decision. However she still played 32 minutes.
FSU had trouble all night with Clemson’s pressure. There were several times that the Noles had trouble even getting the ball in bounds. FSU had 21 turnovers and several were off of in bounds passes. Clemson countered with 23 turnovers of their own. This was a disjointed and at times downright sloppy game which was to Clemson’s advantage.
Clemson shot 55.3% from the field. It is tough to win games when the opponent is shooting such a high percentage. FSU won the rebounding battle 35-32 but the Noles only shot 23-60 (38.3%) from the field so many of those extra shots were not capitalized on with points.
For some reason FSU has trouble hitting layups when playing Clemson. It wasn’t as bad as earlier in the season in Tallahassee but there were several missed tonight.
Individually, Nicki Ekhomu and Nausia Woolfolk continued their strong play. Morgan Jones got her first start of the season and she played well in 30 minutes of action. Jones seems to be finding her footing and that is a good sign going forward for Florida State.
I mentioned that Ekhomu and Woolfolk were playing well, however they are still playing out of position. The lack of a true point guard is hurting FSU right now. The pressure defense employed by the Tigers created turnovers and took the Noles out of their offense all night. This is something that Florida State needs to figure out soon or other teams will exploit this weakness as well.
Florida State will welcome the Pitt Panthers (10-16, 1-11 ACC) and former assistant coach Lance White to Tallahassee on Sunday. The game tips at 2pm and will be carried on the ACCNetwork Extra. The Panthers upset North Carolina tonight 91-78 to secure their first ACC victory.