Florida State (3-0) defeated Florida (0-2) 63-56 today in Tallahassee.
Florida State started this game ice cold. The Gators started the game on a 6-0 run as the Noles missed their first six shots. FSU stayed in the game early with good defense and good defensive rebounding but the offense couldn’t get going because there was a lid on the rim.
Nausia Woolfolk finally broke the ice for FSU with a steal and a fast break layup to cut the lead to 6-2. However, Florida State stayed cold from the field and struggled to cut into the Gator lead further. The first quarter ended with UF leading 15-8 after Kiah Gillespie and Zada Williams traded three-pointers.
The two teams started the second quarter trading baskets. With about four minutes left in the half Florida guard Ariel Johnson hit a three to give UF a 28-20 lead. At this point the Seminoles took control of the game. Savannah Wilkinson sparked FSU with a three ball. FSU went on to score the last seven points of the quarter to go into halftime only down one at 28-27. Head coach Sue Semrau went to a half-court trap that caught the Gators off guard and was a big factor in the end of half run.
FSU kept it going in the third quarter. Valencia Myers came alive and scored the first six points of the period to give the Noles a 33-28 lead. It took a while though because the first 3 and a half minutes of the quarter passed with neither team scoring. After the personal run by Myers, Nicki Ekhomu added a free throw to put the Seminoles up 34-28. Funda Nakkasoglu then hit a triple to break FSU’s 14-0 run. However, the Noles went on another run. This time it was an 8-2 run to extend the lead to 42-33. Nakkasoglu broke it up again with another three ball. The quarter ended on another Nakkasoglu triple but the Noles held a 44-40 lead going into the fourth quarter.
The teams traded baskets to start the fourth but while Delicia Washington made a couple of jumpers FSU’s Woolfolk and Gillespie hit threes to give the Noles a 50-44 lead. Washington did her best to keep the Gators in it as she had 11 of Florida’s 16 fourth quarter points. However, it wasn’t enough as Florida State walked away with a 63-56 victory.
FSU was lead by Kiah Gillespie (19pts, 9reb) and Valencia Myers (13pts, 8reb). Both players also had two blocks.
Funda Nakkasoglu was big for UF with 21 points (6-9, 3PT). Delicia Washington (13pts, 9reb) was the only other double digit scorer for the Gators.
FSU shot poorly for the game (36.4%) and horribly from deep (18.5%, 5-27) but the Noles won the game with defense. FSU was getting killed on the boards early but battled back to win the rebounding contest 42-38. This will be an important stat to watch this year as the relatively small Seminoles will need to hold their own on the boards.
Florida State is dealing with depth issues due to injuries to Iho Lopez, Izabela Nicoletti and Sayawni Lassiter. Because of those injuries and no walk-on players (which is common in women’s college basketball) FSU has only eight available players. All eight players played today. With such a short bench it is critical that the Noles avoid further injury and foul trouble. Those realities will likely lead FSU to employ a 2-3 zone for much of the year. Except for out of bounds plays and special situations like the half court trap the Noles basically stuck to the zone. Nakkasoglu was able to exploit it for six triples. It will be important for Florida State to defend the three better when they start ACC play.
This was an important win for FSU because it is a rivalry game and because the Noles didn’t want to suffer a home loss. But make no mistake, UF is not a good team. They are still in rebuilding mode as a program. Even though Florida State is in a transition year the Seminoles still have significantly more talent than the Gators which is why they were able to come back from starting so slow. When the Noles meet better teams in the ACC they will not be able to afford such slow starts.
FSU will welcome Jacksonville to Tallahassee on Thursday, November 15th at 7pm. The game will be broadcast on ACC Network Extra.