(5) Florida State (24-8) defeated (12) Bucknell (28-6) 70-67 today to advance to the second round of the NCAA Tournament for the 16th straight time.
Valencia Myers started the game by hitting a jumper to put FSU up two. Bucknell answered in fine fashion by going on a 7-0 run that was capped by a Kaitlyn Slagus jumper. Nicki Ekhomu broke the run with a layup. From there the Bison went on another run, this time 8-2, to take a 15-6 lead. The Noles responded with a 6-0 run. After that the teams traded baskets until FSU scored the last four points of the quarter to cut the Bison lead to 19-18 after the first quarter.
FSU continued their end of quarter run by scoring the first seven points of the second quarter to take a 25-19 lead. Bucknell responded with a 7-0 run to retake the lead at 26-25. From there the two teams mostly traded baskets until Morgan Jones ended the first half scoring with a tip in to put Florida State up 32-30 at halftime.
The third quarter was tight as the teams mostly traded baskets. Halfway through FSU hit Bucknell with a 7-0 run to take a 45-40 lead. The Bison immediately responded with a 5-0 mini-run that was broken by a Kiah Gillespie layup. After that the teams traded baskets and the Noles went into the last quarter with a 54-50 lead.
Bucknell started the quarter with an 8-0 run that was sparked by a triple by Slagus. FSU eventually responded with a 9-2 run to take a 63-60 lead with almost four minutes left in the game. After a Slagus free throw, Gillespie nailed a big triple to put FSU up 66-61. Autumn Ceppi answered with a layup for the Bison. Nausia Woolfolk responded with her own layup. After an exchange of free throws Abby Kapp hit a layup to bring the Bison within two at 69-67. Bucknell had to foul to stop the clock. Ekhomu hit one of two free throws. On the ensuing possession the Bison missed a couple of threes and Nausia Woolfolk sealed the game for the Noles with a final rebound.
Kiah Gillespie led FSU with a double-double (17pts, 11reb). Valencia Myers, Nicki Ekhomu and Nausia Woolfolk all chipped in 15 points each. Woolfolk had eight boards while Myers had six.
FSU dominated the boards to the tune of 44-23. Bucknell only had five offensive rebounds all game and they had zero offensive boards in the first half.
The Bison stayed in the game with timely threes. FSU also didn’t have a great shooting day - especially from behind the arc (3-14 3PT).
Individually, Gillespie was obviously huge with her double-double. Myers was also impressive in this game displaying a variety of post moves and playing tough defense without fouling. However, FSU would be nowhere without the efforts of Ekhomu and Woolfolk in the backcourt. These two provide a steadying influence and always seem to be able to deliver in the clutch.
FSU maximized their athletic advantage in this game but if they expect to advance to the Sweet 16 the Noles will have to shoot better against South Carolina.
(5) Florida State will face (4) South Carolina on Sunday in Charlotte for the right to move to the Sweet 16. South Carolina (22-9) defeated Belmont 74-52 in their first round matchup earlier today.