Kiah Gillespie had 17 points and 11 rebounds, and fifth-seeded Florida State held on to beat No. 12 Bucknell 70-67 in the opening round of the women’s NCAA Tournament on Friday.
Nicki Ekhomu, Nausia Woolfork and Valencia Myers each had 15 points for the Seminoles (24-8), who advanced to play fourth-seeded South Carolina on Sunday.
Gillespie played big in the paint, helping Florida State outrebound Bucknell 44-23. She also hit a big 3-pointer in the closing minutes as the Seminoles battled back from a four-point deficit early in the fourth quarter.
Kate Walker led Bucknell (28-6) with 18 points, while Kaitlyn Slagus had 13 and Ellie Mack had 12.
Bucknell trailed 54-50 before opening the quarter on an 8-0 run led by Slagus, who hit a 3-pointer and two free throws and Abby Kapp, who drained a 3 from the top of the key.
But Florida State battled back to take the lead for good at 63-60 with 3:55 left when Ekhomu drove the right side of the lane, scored and drew a foul for a 3-point play. Gillespie followed with a big 3-pointer from the top of the key on the next possession to make it two possession game.
Bucknell kept battling, cutting the lead to two with 17 seconds left when Kapp scored on a layup of a side inbounds play. And when Ekhomu missed the front end of a one-and-one with 14.6 seconds left, Bucknell a chance to tie and send the game into overtime. But Slagus and Kyi English both missed 3-pointers on a frantic final possession.
Bucknell: The Patriot League champions won a school-record 28 games this season, so they have plenty to be happy about. But this would have been their first NCAA Tournament win so this one will be tough to swallow.
Florida State: One of the youngest teams in the NCAA field, the Seminoles inexperience showed early in the game. But they made big plays down the field and controlled the glass.