No. 17 Florida State (19-4, 8-4 ACC) upset No. 5 Louisville (21-2, 10-1 ACC) by a 67-59 score tonight at Louisville, KY.
Both teams started out cold but Kiah Gillespie hit a triple with 6:20 left in the first quarter to give the Noles a 7-2 lead. From there the two teams mostly traded baskets but the Cards scored the last four points of the quarter to tie the game at 11 apiece going into the second quarter.
FSU opened the second quarter on an 11-1 run that was capped by a triple from Nicki Ekhomu. The teams traded baskets to end the half but the Seminoles were up 26-17 heading to halftime. It was the first time in over five years that Louisville had been held to under 20 points in the first half.
The teams traded baskets to begin the second half. However, UL made a run at FSU with about five minutes left in the quarter. The Cards went on a 6-0 mini-run to cut Florida State’s lead to 35-33. Gillespie broke the run with a layup. From there the teams exchanged buckets but the Cardinals scored the last four points of the quarter to pull within two at 42-40.
The Noles responded strongly in the fourth quarter. FSU hit the Cards with a 13-2 run to start the fourth quarter breaking the game open and taking a 55-42 lead with about six minutes to go in the game. However, to their credit, the Cards didn’t quit. With about three and a half minutes to go Dana Evans hit a jumper to spark the Cardinals to a 7-0 run to cut the lead to 57-50 with about two and a half minutes left in the game. Nausia Woolfolk was able to break the run with a pair of pressure free throws. From there the Seminoles were able to close out the game by hitting their free throws. FSU went 10-10 from the charity stripe in the last two minutes to seal the massive road win taking the game by a 67-59 final score.
Kiah Gillespie was huge in this game with 25 points and 13 boards. It was Gillespie’s tenth double-double of the year. Nicki Ekhomu had 18 points and six assists while Nausia Woolfolk chipped in with 11 points.
FSU is 5-2 vs Louisville since the Cards have joined the ACC. This loss for UL snaps their 13 game winning streak.
Florida State is 5-1 against the top 25 and those five wins lead the ACC.
FSU went back to their traditional (bigger) lineup as Valencia Myers returned to the starting lineup against the bigger Cards who feature the 6’4 Kylee Shook and the 6’5 Elizabeth Dixon. This was a good decision as the Noles were able to out rebound the Cardinals 44-38.
Defense was huge in this game as FSU was able to hold UL to 34.4% shooting which is nearly 12 points below their average. It is true that Louisville missed a bunch of open jumpers especially early in the game. However, it was to FSU’s credit that Louisville had to take all of those jumpers instead of being able to get to the rim or get easy baskets off of putbacks.
Gillespie and Ekhomu were simply huge in this game. Gillespie was the most aggressive that she has been in quite some time. UL was switching ball screens and FSU did a good job getting Gillespie the ball when she had a smaller player on her. Gillespie was especially confident shooting her 15 footer over a smaller defender. Ekhomu was mostly unruffled in a hostile environment against Louisville’s pressure. She hit several highly contested shots and also did a good job getting FSU into its offense and getting the ball to the right players in the right spots. We have talked before about how Ekhomu isn’t a natural point guard but you wouldn’t know it from this game on the road against a top 5 opponent.
FSU is fighting for top 4 seeds in both the NCAA and ACC Tournaments. In the NCAA Tournament the top four seeds are rewarded with home games in the first two rounds. In the ACC Tournament the top four seeds enjoy the double bye as they start the tournament in the quarterfinals. Due in large part to the upset loss to Boston College, the Noles were left out of the NCAA Selection Committee’s first reveal of the top four seeds. Tonight’s win likely puts the Seminoles back on the four line. FSU also sits alone in third place in the ACC standings with four conference losses.
Going forward there are six games left on the regular season schedule. FSU should have no trouble sweeping the four home games as 12-11 Wake Forest is the only team left on the home slate with a winning record. However, the two road games could be tricky. Florida State visits Duke who is much better than their 12-10 record and they have a revenge game against 15-8 Georgia Tech in Atlanta. FSU has a great chance to sweep all six games as they are more talented than all of the remaining teams on the schedule. However, they need to come out focused for every game or a BC style upset is possible. If FSU takes care of business in these last six games the Noles will finish at 25-4, 14-4 ACC. That record along with impressive wins over Texas A&M and now Louisville could see the Seminoles on the three line in March.
Florida State will welcome Virginia (10-13, 5-7 ACC) to Tallahassee on Sunday. The game will tip at noon and will be broadcast on the ACC Network. The Cavaliers took down Clemson tonight 70-54.