By: WCTV Eyewitness Sports
March, 24, 2019
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) -- Nicki Ekhomu scored 19 points and two other Florida State players finished in double-figures in scoring, but the Seminoles saw their season come to a close with a loss to South Carolina, 72-64, in the second round of the NCAA Tournament.
If you had to use one word to describe FSU's preparation for and play against South Carolina's up-tempo game, "unafraid," might be the first to come to mind.
The Noles trusted their defense enough to stay strong and crash the glass, owning the boards 50-33 with 27 offensive rebounds, resulting in 19 second chance points.
Kiah Gilespie led the Seminoles with a school postseason record 18 rebounds.
“I think we did a great job on the offensive boards," Gilespie said. "Coach Sue really emphasized the game and rebounding throughout the season and I think that was important coming into this game and I think we did those little things, but sometimes it's just not enough.”
“You can tell when people battle when you go to the boards and out-rebound an SEC team 50 to 30, 20 or something like that," added head coach Sue Semrau. "It’s just grit and toughness we’ve been coaching all year.”
But, the Gamecocks wouldn't go down without a fight. South Carolina stormed back to take the lead in the second quarter and the two sides traded barbs in a game where the whistles were seldom until the end.
A 1-for-7 finish for FSU from the floor sealed their fate.
“I think we stayed together as a team and we all played hard," said Seminole guard Morgan Jones. "It was a team effort and some things didn’t go our way, but I know like at the end of the day, this game just made us a lot better. Next year we’ll be a lot better as well.”
A bright future built on a season beyond expectations, a foundation held together by the will of winners.
“You can come in and have a lot of talented players but if they don’t have the character to buy into a culture and build a culture, then you’re not gonna win a lot of games, and they have character and I’m extremely proud of the players we’ve recruited to come here to Florida State and the environment that’s around our basketball program at Florida State that helps them grow as strong, beautiful, powerful women," Semrau said.
FSU finishes the 2018-19 season with a 24-9 record.
South Carolina advances to the Sweet Sixteen, where they'll face the winner of Monday's game between Baylor and California.