No. 14 Florida State (18-4, 7-4) celebrated a dominant 66-41 road win over Pittsburgh (4-17, 1-9) Saturday at the Petersen Events Center.
The 25-point margin of victory marked FSU’s largest ACC win of the season.
Senior guard Nicki Ekhomu led the Seminoles in scoring for the second straight game with a season-high 25 points, marking the 12th 20-point game of her career. Coupled with three rebounds and four assists, Ekhomu’s 11 made field goals tie a career high.
“As far as being a point guard and being a senior and being one of the captains on the team, it definitely starts with me,” Ekhomu said. “We had a lot of talks with the coaches, and (Coach Sue) told me I needed to choose. And I chose to be a leader, and I chose to come out and be aggressive.”
Ekhomu contributed nine first-quarter points and propelled the Seminoles to an early 12-2 lead. The Florida State defense held Pittsburgh to two points in the first quarter, which marked their lowest scoring total of the season.
Pittsburgh was brought back by freshman guard Dayshanette Harris after trailing by as much as 10 early in the second quarter, to tie the game 20-20 entering the break. Harris led the Panthers with 17 points and seven rebounds.
Florida State displayed balance on offense after the break and bounced back from shooting just 21.2 percent in the first half by taking advantage of the attention Ekhomu received from the Pittsburgh defenders. The Seminoles’ supporting cast capitalized on scoring opportunities, shooting 51.4 percent and outscoring the Panthers 46-21 in the second half.
The freshmen trio River Baldwin, Sammie Puisis, and London Clarkson combined to score 21 of the Seminoles’ 66 points. Baldwin contributed four points and six rebounds, adding three blocks on the defensive end. Puisis recorded her fourth double-figure game, with three coming against conference opponents. She added 12 points, all coming from beyond the arc. Puisis is Florida State’s leader with 37 three-point field goals made. Clarkson tacked on five points, going 5-of-6 from the line for a career high in free throws made and attempted.
“Our balance was really really big,” Semrau said. “I thought River Baldwin came in and had a really nice game.”
Redshirt senior Kiah Gillespie finished with 10 points and 14 rebounds to secure her 22nd career double-double, her second straight against the Panthers to move her into a tie for fifth on the FSU career list. All of Gillespie’s 10 points came in the second half, and her 14 rebounds are her most in ACC play this season.
The Seminoles won the battle of the boards 51-40 and forced 15 turnovers for 15 points. FSU’s 51 rebounds are its most in ACC play this season and tied for its second-most this season. Pittsburgh’s 24.6 shooting percentage was the worst by an FSU opponent this season. Florida State is 14-0 when holding opponents under 40 percent from the field.
Florida State continues its two-game road trip on Thursday at 8 p.m., as it travels to face No. 5 ranked Louisville. The game will be televised on ACC Network.