TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — A perfect 10th win it was not.
But Florida State played gritty defense and won the rebounding battle en route to its fourth 10-0 start in program history.
Nausia Woolfolk scored a season-high 25 points and Kiah Gillespie added 13 points and 13 rebounds as the eighth-ranked Seminoles held off St. John’s 74-70 on Sunday.
Playing for the first time in a week as coach Sue Semrau scheduled a break to allow players to study for final exams, the Seminoles were sluggish. Woolfolk was not, making 10 of 18 shots from the floor while pulling down four rebounds and recording four steals.
“Nausia really played a great game,” Semrau said. “She was able to get by people, finish shots. That helped us when we were a little out of sync.”
Nicki Ekhomu had 10 points for the Seminoles (10-0), who used an 18-2 run in the second quarter to take the lead and were in front the rest of the way. But even as Florida State led by 15 points in the second half, the lead wasn’t safe.
Qadashah Hoppie scored 16 points and Alissa Alston came off the bench to contribute 15 points for St. John’s (6-4).
The Red Storm had their chances in the final 2 minutes, but a missed layup and 3-pointer — as well as made free-throw attempts by Gillespie — sealed the victory for Florida State.
“The way we played early was great,” St. John’s coach Joe Tartamella said. “I thought we battled back. We were down 15. I was happy how they came back. But at the end we didn’t execute.”
Emma Nolan made three 3-pointers for St. John’s, which shot 24 of 51 (47.1%) from the floor.
The Seminoles shot 28 of 60 (46.7%).
All four of Florida State’s 10-0 starts have come since 2004-05 under Semrau, who is in her 23rd season.
“We’ve been able to compete in some very good basketball games and come out on top,” Semrau said. “We still have a lot of growing to do.”
Florida State could move up in the top 10 when the latest rankings come out on Monday.
DYNAMITE IN DECEMBER
The Seminoles have won 20 of their last 21 games in December. Florida State is 4-0 this December, including wins over then-No. 6 Texas A&M and then-No. 19 Michigan State.
Gillespie has 18 double-doubles in her two seasons at Florida State. The redshirt senior, who transferred from Maryland, has five double-doubles in 10 games this season.
St. John’s: The Red Storm shot just 11 of 28 (28.6%) in the second half and couldn’t dig out of a double-digit, second-half deficit.
Florida State: The Seminoles were tough on defense, forcing 18 turnovers, which led to 29 points.
St. John’s: Hosts Fairfield on Friday.
Florida State: Hosts North Florida on Wednesday.
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