TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP)Kiah Gillespie has made clutch shots in late-game situations. She did it again and again Thursday night.
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 victory over No. 19 Michigan State. 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 seniors once again. Gillespie, who also had 12 rebounds, led the way, followed by senior guards Nicki Ekhomu (15 points, five assists) 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 free-throw attempts on the night. The Seminoles rallied by outscoring Michigan State 29-16 in the final period.
Nia Clouden scored 22 points and had eight assists, while Shay Colley added 11 points for the Spartans (6-2), who made 11 three-pointers.
Michigan State forced 20 turnovers and capitalized with 22 points but the intensity that had been there for three periods was missing late.
”Our first three quarters were as good as you can play,” Michigan State coach Suzy Merchant said. ”I thought our pressure defense was really solid for us. But we just went cold again in one quarter. We got to get people to step up and get upset about that and make a couple plays for us.”
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 nonconference wins over Top 25 teams.
DOMINANT IN CHALLENGE
Florida State is 11-2 in the Big Ten / ACC Challenge. The Seminoles have won eight straight games in the challenge.
Michigan State likely won’t see its ranking slip. Florida State could move up slightly depending on what the rest of the Top 10 does over the weekend.
Michigan State: The Spartans made 8 of 18 three-pointers in the first half but were just 3 of 18 from beyond the arc in the second half.
Florida State: The Seminoles won the rebounding battle 43-30 and rallied in the second half after going nearly six minutes in the second period without a point.
Michigan State: vs. Morehead State on Sunday
Florida State: at Clemson on Sunday