The Seminoles are off to a 10-1 start for the third consecutive season.
Curt Weiler, Tallahassee Democrat
Florida State point guard Nicki Ekhomu has shown an ability to take over a game before.
It was on full display Sunday when she went for 24 points to lead the FSU women’s basketball team (10-1) to a 71-52 win over the Creighton Bluejays (4-5) in front of a crowd of 2,501 people inside the Tucker Civic Center.
“I’m just trying to do what’s best for the team,” Ekhomu said.
“If I see an open person, I’ll pass it. If I think I need to be aggressive and attack or coach thinks I need to, that’s what I’m going to do.”
It’s the third time in 11 games this season that Ekhomu has gone for 24-plus points and improved her season average to 14.1 points per game.
Ekhomu did it in all phases as was seven of 15 from the field, eight of eight from the free throw line and two of five from three-point range with eight rebounds and three assists.
“That was a great win for our basketball team,” FSU head coach Sue Semrau said.
“This team locked in and they were rewarded for it.”
With the victory, the Seminoles are off to a 10-1 start for the third consecutive season.
It was a slow offensive start for the Seminoles. They missed their first six shots from the floor and faced an early deficit.
While the shots from the floor weren’t falling, FSU hung around behind making the most of its frequent trips to the free throw line, hitting all eight free throws it took in the opening quarter.
For the opening 13-plus minutes, the Bluejays were scoring almost at will. They opened 12 of 16 (75 percent) from the floor and did so in an unexpected way.
Semrau made a big deal out of how much Creighton has relied on the three-point shot this season and how it would test the Seminoles.
Instead, the Bluejays found space in the FSU defense for inside shots as just three of their first 16 shots were from outside the arc.
“I kind of called it a little bit. I said, ‘We know that both teams are going to come out and make some mistakes early.’ We went down early,” Semrau said.
“The fight that they had in them, I thought was great.”
With FSU facing a 27-21 deficit halfway through the second quarter, Semrau frustratedly called a timeout that ended up turning the tide.
FSU responded with a 9-0 run that opened up a lead it took into the half with a 34-33 lead it held for nearly all of the remainder of the game.
Creighton tied the game up one more time at 44 all in the third quarter, but FSU ended the game on a 27-8 run from there.
After Creighton’s hot shooting start, the Seminoles held the Bluejays to 33.3 percent shooting in the second half as their lead gradually grew.
What we learned
Making the free ones
FSU took advantage each time it went to the free throw line in the win over Creighton.
The Seminoles finished 16 of 18 (88.9 percent) from the charity stripe, their best percentage of the season and their most made free throws since they hit 30 in their season-opening win over Troy.
Amazingly, all of these attempts came from three FSU players in Ekhomu, Nausia Woolfolk and Valencia Myers.
FSU made it clear throughout Sunday’s game that it wasn’t going to let the Bluejays beat them from outside the arc.
The Seminoles closed out and were keen on defending the perimeter to limit the main facet of the Creighton offense after the Bluejays hit 17 three-pointers in last year’s 92-82 win.
Coming off a game in which Creighton hit a program-record 18 three-pointers, they were just 3 of 13 (23.1 percent) from the perimeter in the loss to the Seminoles.
“To hold Creighton to three three-pointers is unreal,” Semrau said.
“I’m extremely proud of our defensive effort this week.”
With 13 points and 11 rebounds, junior forward Kiah Gillespie put together her fourth double-double of the season against Creighton.
She’s proven consistent in both areas as it marked the 10th time in 11 games this season that she’s scored in double digits and she has grabbed nine or more rebounds seven times this young season.
The Seminoles hit the road again next week to take on the Milwaukee Panthers (5-5) Thursday at 8 p.m.
Their next home game is Saturday, Dec. 29 at 2 p.m. against Georgia State.
Florida State at Milwaukee
When: Thursday, 8 p.m.
Where: Panther Arena, Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Radio: 106.1 FM