Ekhomu had a career-high 31 points and two teammates added double-doubles in FSU’s 103-67 win over the Trojans.
Curt Weiler, Tallahassee Democrat
Florida State began its regular season with a statement.
Much was being made of the youth the FSU women’s basketball team was relying on heading into this season while going against a Troy team that returned over 100 more starts off last year’s team than the Seminoles.
By the end of the first quarter, all of that was forgotten as the Seminoles (1-0) rolled to a 103-67 victory over the Trojans (0-1) in front of a kid-heavy crowd of 3,895 people on Field Trip Day inside the Tucker Civic Center Tuesday morning.
After a slow opening few minutes, FSU finished the first quarter on an 18-2 run and led 27-10 after 10 minutes.
That lead remained in double-digits for the remainder of the game and grew with each passing quarter.
“This is a group that really has a desire to learn and get better,” FSU head coach Sue Semrau said.
“As a result of that, when they went out today, I thought their poise was the big difference.
“A lot of things that we did really well. I’m really proud of them.”
In her first career start at point guard, junior Nicki Ekhomu was a huge offensive weapon for the Seminoles.
She finished with a team-high 31 points on eight of 12 shooting and 12 of 14 from the free throw line.
“(Semrau) helped me with that. She told me to tell all of us yesterday to do our jobs,” Ekhomu said.
“She gave me what she wanted me to do so I just tried to do that.”
The youth of this year’s FSU team was evident in the starting lineup. Kourtney Weber and Valencia Myers became the first two FSU freshmen to start a season opener since 2013.
Myers made an impact from the opening minutes, scoring FSU’s first points and influencing the game in all facets.
She finished her debut with 17 points, 10 rebounds, and five blocks.
“I just have to play my role to the best of my ability,” Myers said.
“Rebounding, defense, scoring, whatever coach Sue tells me to do, that’s what I do as well as I can.”
Junior Maryland transfer Kiah Gillespie added a collegiate career-high of 21 points and had 12 boards in her FSU debut, but was an inefficient two of eight from three-point range.
As a team, FSU only made seven of its 30 three-point attempts (23.3 percent), but won inside, outrebounding the Trojans 63 to 43 and putting up 48 points in the paint.
Only Amber Rivers finished in double-digits for Troy with 12 points as FSU held the Trojans to 28 percent shooting as a team.
“This isn’t who we wanted to be,” Semrau said.
“It’s how we wanted to start and we measured up, I thought, really well, but we’ve got a lot of things we can work on and they’re excited about that as well.”
Player of the Game
Ekhomu is the clear choice for the honor in Tuesday’s debut.
The junior is one of only two returning players with significant playing experience at FSU.
She’s emerged as a leader for the Seminoles and showed why against Troy.
By halftime, she had matched her previous career-high of 20 points and finished 11 points clear of that mark.
She also added five rebounds and three assists in her 31 minutes of action.
What We Learned
Collective rebounding effort
Of the eight players who saw the court in FSU’s win over Troy, all eight recorded at least four rebounds.
Four different players had six or more.
Yes, some of this can be attributed to a physical advantage over the opponent, but it also speaks to the whole team’s buy-in to the importance of rebounding.
Free Throw Success
FSU went to the free throw line a lot in its win over Troy and took advantage of the opportunity.
The Seminoles finished 30 of 36 from the line (83.3 percent) with seven different players hitting at least one free throw.
It’s only a one-game sample size, but that’s noticeably better than FSU’s 72.3 free throw percentage from last season.
Myers’ Block Party
In her first game as a Seminole, Myers showcased her ability as a shot-blocker.
The former McDonald’s All-American had five of FSU’s six blocks against Troy.
It ties her with former FSU big Chatrice White for the most blocks in a single game since 2014.
The Seminoles return to action Friday night when they host the North Florida Ospreys.
Florida State vs. North Florida
When: Friday, 7 p.m.
Where: Tucker Civic Center
TV/Radio: WatchESPN (Online)/106.1 FM