TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — After blowing a 16-point lead to its arch-rival last season, Florida State was determined not to let it happen again Thursday night.
The seventh-ranked Seminoles were able to keep the pressure on the No. 23 Gators and steadily pulled away during the second half in an 83-58 victory.
Since a two-point loss to top-ranked UConn on Nov. 14, Florida State (9-1) has won eight straight. None though might have meant more than beating its in-state rival for the fourth time in their last five meetings.
“I wish I could say I expected this,” Florida State coach Sue Semrau said about the 25-point win, which is the fourth-largest margin it has defeated Florida. “This is a big win. We want to be a great defensive team and we continue to get better.”
Ivey Slaughter got her 20th career double-double (13 points, 10 rebounds) as she was one of five FSU players to score in double figures. The Seminoles had 17 offensive rebounds, outrebounded the Gators by 10 overall and had a 19-2 advantage in second-chance points.
“Everyone on this team can guard which makes it easier to get stops. It just comes down to toughness,” Slaughter said.
Leticia Romero led Florida State with 21 points, Shakayla Thomas added 16, Brittany Brown 13 and Imani Wright 12.
In all but one of the games during the winning streak, Florida State has held a lead of at least 21 points or more.
Ronni Williams led the Gators (6-3) with 20 points. It was Florida’s second loss to a ranked team in five days, with both coming on the road.
“I am very disappointed. It was a weak rebounding effort by us. We did a poor job, especially in the first half of boxing them out,” Florida coach Amanda Butler said.
Florida: The Gators came into the game averaging 74.9 points but were held to a season low. They are 0-3 when scoring fewer than 70 points this season and 51-99 in Amanda Butler’s 10 seasons at her alma mater.
Florida State: The Seminoles were 2-6 against Top 25 teams during the regular season last year, which is a big reason why they didn’t host the first two rounds of last season’s NCAA Tournament. FSU though is 2-1 this season with the lone loss being by two points to top-ranked UConn. The win should also help bolster their RPI rating as the season progresses.
Florida State could make a case for the top five after a decisive win over a ranked opponent while Florida is likely to drop out after another loss. This marked the first time in 73 meetings that both teams were ranked when facing each other.
Florida State held a 47-39 lead with 5:11 remaining in the third quarter when Imani Wright fouled Delicia Washington and was also called for a technical for a shove after the foul. Eleanna Christinaki originally went to the line and made two free throws but officials should have had Washington shoot first.
After the officials realized their error and corrected it, they took Christinaki’s points off the board. Washington missed both of her shots and then Christinaki was 1 of 2 when she retook the technical shots. Florida got the ball off the inbound but Dyandria Washington missed a 3-pointer.
“That was a huge sequence. They tried to make a game of it but we were able to keep our poise,” Semrau said.
The Gators were able to get to 49-43 before FSU scored 12 straight points to put it out of reach.
Florida: The Gators will remain in Northwest Florida to face North Carolina A&T on Sunday in a neutral-site game at Gulf Coast State College in Panama City.
Florida State: The Seminoles are at UAB on Saturday. The two teams met last year, which FSU won 84-44.
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