TALLAHASSEE, FL – All good things must come to an end. On Sunday, a couple of notable streaks were snapped as No. 22/18 Florida State Women’s Basketball fell to Clemson, 57-45, in its ACC home opener at the Donald L. Tucker Center.
The Seminoles (14-2, 2-1) entered the game with an 18-game win streak over the Tigers (12-5, 3-1) that had stemmed from 2009. They also carried a 10-game win streak after escaping with two narrow victories last week at conference opponents Virginia and North Carolina.
However, FSU found no such luck on Sunday. A suffocating defense by the Tigers that included plenty of full-court trapping and an aggressive zone resulted in FSU losing its first conference game of the season. Despite the efforts of redshirt junior Kiah Gillespie, who posted her seventh double-double with 16 points and 14 rebounds, the Seminoles walked away with a 12-point defeat.
“I thought Clemson played good,” FSU head coach Sue Semrau said. “They were so active and forcing us into those type of turnovers, it’s not something we’ve seen. Just a credit to them, they did a fantastic job. It was good for our young team. Instead of coming together, we splintered and we need to learn that when it gets tough we need to come together.”
Clemson held FSU to season lows in points scored, field goals made (17) and shooting percentage (26.6 percent). While the Tigers did not fare much better offensively, they got big production from junior forward Kobi Thornton – who scored 19 points and added 10 rebounds.
In the fourth quarter, a jumper by junior Nicki Ekhomu got the Seminoles to just a one-point deficit trailing 46-45 with 4:35 remaining. But Clemson responded with a layup by Thornton to extend its lead to three points with 3:26 left.
The game then took a turn when FSU was called for an unsportsmanlike foul with 3:02 remaining off an offensive rebound, as Westbrook hit one of two free throws to give Clemson a 49-45 lead.
From there, Clemson scored on each of its next four possessions while FSU was unable to convert on its end.
Ekhomu added 16 points for the Seminoles and corralled six rebounds. Freshman center Valencia Myers scored nine points and added six rebounds and two blocked shots.
Despite the loss, FSU’s ACC-leading scoring defense did its job once again – forcing 18 turnovers by Clemson and out-rebounding the Tigers 46-37. While Clemson was able to force a season-high 23 turnovers by FSU, the Seminoles also did not capitalize on chances underneath – converting just nine of 27 layups.
“Yeah, losing all the time is always disappointing, but I think this was a good loss for us,” Gillespie said post-game. “We haven’t lost since LSU and I think Clemson is one of the better teams we have played this season. They are definitely not the same Clemson that most people run through the past couple years.
“They are trying to be strong in the ACC and I can see it. It’s something where we need to learn how to play through, these last two games we squeaked out but we have to come out with fire and we have to come together. That’s something we didn’t do this game and we paid for it.”
The Seminoles look to re-group for an important mid-week ACC matchup on Thursday at Boston College at 7 p.m. The game will be live streamed once again on the ACC Network Extra.
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