The 14th-ranked Seminoles (20-4, 9-4) head back on the road to face Duke (14-10, 8-5) this Sunday afternoon at Cameron Indoor Stadium in a battle for an ACC Tournament double bye. Tip-off is set for 1 p.m. on ESPN2.
One conference game separates the two programs, with the Seminoles sitting at third in the ACC and the Blue Devils following close behind, tied for fourth with Virginia Tech. Both teams have just five games remaining for the regular season. A win over the Duke would clinch Florida State’s sixth straight season of 10 or more wins in the ACC.
The contest features four of the ACC’s top scorers in two Seminoles and two Blue Devils who all rank among the top 15 in points per game average. Florida State redshirt senior forward Kiah Gillespie (eighth – 15.8) and senior guard Nicki Ekhomu (10th – 14.8) go head-to-head with Duke graduate student guard Haley Gorecki (third – 18.0), and senior forward Leaonna Odom (14th – 14.0).
The accolades continue to pile on this week for ACC Player of the Year candidate, Gillespie. The Meriden, Conn., native was named a Top 10 finalist for the Katrina McClain Award, selected to the Naismith Trophy Midseason Team, named ESPNW National Player of the Week and ACC Player of the Week and was chosen to the NCAA Starting Five. She is the first player to win ACC Player of the week three times this season. Gillespie is averaging 16.0 points and 10.5 rebounds in two career games against Duke.
Florida State is 5-2 in ACC road games this season, out-scoring opponents by an average of +6.9 per game (71.0- 64.1). Gillespie (19.4 ppg), Ekhomu (15.3) and senior guard Nausia Woolfolk (10.6) are all averaging double figures in conference road games.
FSU follows its Duke trip with a home contest against ACC foe Wake Forest on Thursday at 7 p.m. on ACC Network Extra.
FSU softball loses to Northwestern
Playing a ranked team for the fifth time in the first nine games of the season, No. 5 Florida State (6-3) was defeated by No. 23 Northwestern (4-4) by a score of 6-2 on Saturday at the 2020 St. Pete/Clearwater Elite Invitational.
“Saw some good things from today, though definitely not the outcome we were looking for, but we are going to continue to grow,” said FSU head coach Lonni Alameda. “We came to this tournament, and purposely schedule difficult games in February, to get challenged. It is important for us to play some elite level softball and to learn how to play on the road in different conditions and situations. Learning to play consistently is a key that we are trying to focus on as a coaching staff. That’s what this tournament does so well, is challenge you from the first inning to the seventh inning. We’ll take the things we did well and work on the things we can do better and continue to attack pitch-by-pitch tomorrow.”
Offense was at a premium in the early going as the two teams combined for four total hits through the first four innings. The Seminoles struck first against the Wildcats as Cassidy Davis hit a solo home run to center in the bottom of the second inning to put FSU in front, 1-0.
FSU added another run in the bottom of the fourth inning, after Elizabeth Mason drew a walk and a single by Dani Morgan was misplayed by the NU centerfielder, which allowed Mason to score from first base and extend the FSU lead to 2-0.
Northwestern got a run back in the top of the fifth as Kenna Wilkey hit a solo home run to center to lead off the inning. A double by Gracie Huff was erased by Kaia LoPreste, as the freshman retired Huff at third base on a steal attempt to keep FSU in front, 2-1.
Brianna Enter started the top of the sixth in the circle for the Seminoles and faced just two batters, hitting one and walking another, before Kathryn Sandercock entered in relief. A bunt single by the Wildcats loaded the bases and a two-run single by Morgan Newport gave Northwestern a 3-2 lead. Sandercock retired the next two batters with a strikeout, but a single and double brought in three more runs for Northwestern to make it 6-2 Wildcats.
Arnold finished with 5.0 innings pitched, giving up one run on four hits with one walk and three strikeouts in the no decision. Sandercock tossed 1.2 innings of relief for the Seminoles and allowed three runs on four hits with one walk and three strikeouts. Kara Bilodeau retired the only batter she faced with a pop out.
The Seminoles will close out the St. Pete/Clearwater Elite Invitational on Sunday, February 16 with a pair of games against Liberty (12:00 p.m.) and No. 2 UCLA (7:00 p.m.). The Noles and Flames will be shown on ESPN3, while the Noles and Bruins will air nationally on ESPN2.
FSU track and field
Kasey Knevelbaard dipped under the four-minute mark in the mile for just second time in his career Saturday at Boston University’s David Hemery Valentine Invitational, finishing fourth in the fast section in 3:59.00.
The graduate transfer from Southern Utah deployed a furious kick over the final 200 meters, passing seven runners on the last lap to record the No. 2 time in Florida State history and put himself in contention for a trip to the NCAA Indoor Championships.
“It was a really busy and hectic race and I had a difficult time positioning myself well,” Knevelbaard said. “I have to get used to a lot of bodies on a 200-meter track. It was hectic but something good to learn from moving forward….
“It’s a definitely a step in the right direction, but I have a lot left.”
Knevelbaard’s closing kick very nearly took down Tom Lancashire’s school record 3:58.52, set back in 2006. Still, it marked the first time he had dipped under four minutes on a 200-meter oval, with his personal-best of 3:58.54 coming last year at the University of Washington’s 300-meter track.
Sophomore Milton Ingraham turned in the Seminoles’ top performance Saturday at the Tiger Paw Invitational, placing second in the shot put with a personal-best throw of 17.82 meters (58-5.75). That mark moved him to No. 9 on FSU’s all-time list.
Hyde wins 300th match as coach
The No. 4 Florida State women’s tennis team (9-1) remained unbeaten at home after they hosted their military appreciation match on Saturday against Air Force in which they celebrate Head Coach Jennifer Hyde’s 300th career win. The Noles first took down Air Force Academy (4-4) 7-0 and finished off the day with a 7-0 win over Florida A&M (0-9).
“It’s a pretty cool milestone to get to, there are just so many people that went into those 300 wins and I am just so proud to be able to earn that at Florida State, on our home court,” said Head Coach Jennifer Hyde about her 300th career win.
#4 Florida State University 7, Air Force 0
1. Emmanuelle Salas (FS) def. TJ Fumagalli (721) 6-2, 6-6 (7-5)
2. Petra Hule (FS) def. Meredith Jones (721) 6-0, 6-3
3. #86 Nandini Das (FS) def. Nadeen Lieberman (721) 6-0, 7-5
4. Victoria Allen (FS) def. Kristin Kerrigan (721) 6-0, 6-2
5. Andrea Garcia (FS) def. Sydney Fitch (721) 6-2, 6-2
6. Mira Stegmann (FS) def. Alex Kuo (721) 3-6, 6-3, 10-1
1. #50 TJ Fumagalli/Nadeen Lieberman (721) def. #15 Petra Hule/Victoria Allen (FS) 7-6 (7-4)
2. Nandini Das/Andrea Garcia (FS) def. Meredith Jones/Kristin Kerrigan (721) 6-3
3. Emmanuelle Salas/Alice Amendola (FS) def. Alex Kuo/Courtney Swift (721) 6-2
#4 Florida State University 7, FLORIDA A&M 0
1. Emmanuelle Salas (FS) def. PORTER,Haleigh (FAMUW) 6-1, 6-2
2. Petra Hule (FS) def. HUBEAUT,Aylen (FAMUW) 6-1, 6-3
3. #86 Nandini Das (FS) def. HARDEN,Rachel (FAMUW) 6-4, 6-1
4. Andrea Garcia (FS) def. NEALY,Arielle (FAMUW) 6-3, 6-2
5. Mira Stegmann (FS) def. OSABUOHLEN,Ofure (FAMUW) 6-2, 6-0
6. Alice Amendola (FS) def. MACHISA,Karen (FAMUW) 6-1, 6-0
1. Nandini Das/Victoria Allen (FS) def. HUBEAUT,Aylen/MACHISA,Karen (FAMUW) 6-3
2. Petra Hule/Andrea Garcia (FS) def. OSABUOHLEN,Ofure/HARDEN,Rachel (FAMUW) 6-2
3. Alice Amendola/Mira Stegmann (FS) def. PORTER,Haleigh/NEALY,Arielle (FAMUW) 6-2