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Gillespie powers FSU rally in top-20 matchup

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Kiah Gillespie has made clutch shots in late-game situations. She did it again and again on Thursday.

Gillespie scored 18 of her season-high 24 points in the second half as No. 8 Florida State remained undefeated by rallying to take a 78-68 win over No. 19 Michigan State on Thursday. The senior forward was 6 of 10 from the floor and 10 of 12 from the free-throw line in the second half.

Florida State (8-0) leaned on its senior leaders once again. Gillespie, who also had 12 rebounds, led the way, followed by senior guards Nicki Ekhomu (15 points) and Nausia Woolfolk (11 points, 11 rebounds).

“They coached themselves,” Florida State coach Sue Semrau said. “They’re veterans now. Down the stretch they hit free throws.”

Florida State won the game at the free-throw line, making 19 of 21 attempts in the final 10 minutes _ and made a season-high 30 of 36 (83.3%) free-throw attempts on the night. The Seminoles rallied by outscoring Michigan State 29-16 in the final period. 

This is the first time since 1992 that the Seminoles have put together two straight non-conference wins over top-25 teams.

Florida State turned it over 20 times but just three of those came in the final period, including a pair with the Seminoles well in front. What changed?

“We just picked up our energy and intensity,” said Valencia Myers, who had 12 points and was 6 of 6 at the free-throw line. “We figured out ways to handle their full-court pressure and their half-court pressure.”

Florida State again finished well. The Seminoles came into the game shooting 56.4% in the fourth period of games, and on Thursday they shot 5 of 10 from the floor and 19 of 21 from the line.

Nausia Woolfolk had 11 points and 10 rebounds for the Seminoles.

This is the first time since 1992 that the Seminoles have put together two straight non-conference wins over top-25 teams.

FSU owns an 11-2 record in the Big Ten / ACC Challenge. The Seminoles have won eight straight games in the challenge.

FSU plays at Clemson on Sunday.

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