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No. 19 FSU women’s basketball pounds Clemson

The Noles pull away early and were never seriously challenged.

COLLEGE BASKETBALL: FEB 27 Women’s Clemson at Florida State Photo by David Allio/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

No. 19 Florida State (22-6, 11-6 ACC) defeated Clemson (7-21, 3-14 ACC) tonight in Tallahassee by an 81-54 score.

Game Recap

Florida State started the game on a 10-2 run that was sparked by the first shot of the game which was a Nausia Woolfolk triple. A Kobi Thornton layup broke the run but the Seminoles responded with a 15-3 run to end the quarter. That run gave the Noles a 25-7 lead going into the second quarter.

After about two minutes elapsed in the second quarter FSU hit Clemson with another run. This time it was an 8-0 run to give the Seminoles a 33-11 lead. From there the Noles coasted to a 42-23 halftime lead.

To their credit the Tigers never folded but they were never able to get closer than 14 points for the rest of the game as Florida State was able to close out an 81-54 victory.

Post Game

All five starters for FSU were in double figures led by Nausia Woolfolk with 17. Kiah Gillespie had a double-double with 16 points and 11 boards. Valencia Myers had 14 points on 6-7 shooting. Morgan Jones and Nicki Ekhomu had 12 and 11 points respectively.

Clemson made the NCAA Tournament last year for the first time since 2002 advancing to the second round. The Tigers won nine ACC games last year including a sweep of FSU. This was all accomplished in Coach Amanda Butler’s first year. Things seemed to be looking up for a perpetually downtrodden program. Now last year looks like an aberration as the Tigers have come crashing down to earth.

This game could serve as a bit of a confidence builder for an FSU team that has struggled a bit lately losing two of their last three contests. However, it is hard to take much out of this game as Clemson is really bad and we already knew that FSU can handle bad teams.

Florida State had designs on securing a top four NCAA Tournament seed before the season. While there is still an outside chance that this could happen it is much more likely that the Noles will find themselves having to go on the road for their opening Tournament games.

Basically teams need to be elite or very close to it in order to get a top four seed. Elite teams prove that they are elite by accomplishing three things.

  1. They always beat bad teams.
  2. They usually beat average to good teams (70%-80% of the time).
  3. They at least split with other elite teams.

Florida State has basically been able to do two of those three things. The Noles are 12-0 against Q3 and Q4 teams so #1 has been accomplished. FSU is 2-2 against the current RPI top 25 so there is evidence that the Seminoles have taken care of #3. It is the second requirement where FSU has come up short. The Noles are 8-4 against teams currently ranked 26-100 in the RPI. You may be thinking that 8-4 means that FSU has a 67% winning percentage against these good teams. That is really close to the 70% goal. That is true and that is why FSU is currently on the 5 seed line. They are really close to having a top 4 seed but they aren’t there now.

Think of it this way. Had FSU beaten Georgia Tech (#67 RPI) last Sunday that would have improved their mark against good teams to 9-3 (75%) and they would probably be on the four seed line right now. Florida State is real close but not close enough.

Unfortunately neither this game against Clemson (#218 RPI) nor the final regular season game against Notre Dame (#111 RPI) will move the needle (unless FSU loses). In order to get that top 4 seed the Noles will likely need to upset someone in the ACC Tournament.

Speaking of the ACC, Florida State is now tied with Duke and Virginia Tech for third place after the Hokies beat the Blue Devils 70-56 tonight. If they all finish tied for third the seedings would be Duke third, FSU fourth and VT fifth due to tie-breakers.

Duke gets North Carolina on the road to close the season. Duke is better than UNC but the game is in Chapel Hill and it is a rivalry. That one could go either way. FSU faces Notre Dame at home and will be prohibitive favorites. Virginia Tech must go to #5 Louisville and they will be serious underdogs. The bottom line is that it will take something extremely weird to happen for FSU to not be a top 4 seed in the ACC Tournament and miss the double-bye.

Next Game

Florida State will welcome Notre Dame to Tallahassee on Sunday. It will be Senior Day as Nausia Woolfolk, Nicki Ekhomu and Kiah Gillespie will play their last regular season game in Tallahassee. The game will tip at 2pm and will be broadcast on the ACC Network.