Williams scores 21, Florida upsets No. 6 Florida State 82-72
GAINESVILLE, Fla. (AP) Florida's successful home opener ruined Florida State's highly anticipated season opener.
Ronnie Williams scored 21 points, Simone Westbrook added 14 and the Gators upset the sixth-ranked Seminoles 82-72 on Monday night.
Florida (1-1) overcame a 15-point deficit to beat FSU (0-1) for just the fourth time in the last 13 tries.
This one came in the Seminoles' opener to a season filled with high expectations. Florida State, with four returning starters from an Elite Eight team, moved up one spot to No. 6 in the latest AP women's basketball poll Monday. It's the highest ranking in program history.
''We're learning how to play with a target on our back,'' FSU coach Sue Semrau said. ''We didn't do a very good job today. I think our leadership will step up. We're not where we need to be yet.''
Adding to the Seminoles' woes: dynamic guard Leticia Romero injured her left ankle with a 1:11 remaining and had to be helped to the locker room. Semrau called it a high-ankle sprain.
Eleanna Christinaki chipped in 13 points for Florida, which used seven 3-pointers to help offset 27 turnovers and a minus-seven rebounding differential.
Williams was 9 of 16 shooting and finished with 10 rebounds, two blocks and two steals. She scored 15 points in the second half, helping Florida rally from a double-digit deficit.
Adut Bulgak led the Seminoles with 20 points and 14 boards. Romero had 16 points.
Semrau said the tough road test to open the season was ''exactly what we needed.''
''We certainly didn't want to start off with competition that wasn't really formidable,'' she added. ''I think Florida came out and they were extremely formidable. They were tough and they were hard-nosed and they had something to prove. It was a great crowd, and I'm really glad we had this one.''
The Gators trailed 26-11 in the second quarter, and Williams headed to the bench a short time later with her third foul.
Florida was down 38-29 at halftime and 57-51 after the third quarter. But Williams and Dyandria Anderson took over in the fourth. Williams made 6 of 10 shots after the break, and Anderson made three consecutive baskets - including a 3-pointer - with about 8 minutes to play.
''We beat a very, very, very good team,'' Florida coach Amanda Butler said. ''Coming off disappointment, I thought we showed a tremendous amount of maturity. I thought we had great leadership from our upperclassmen. It meant a ton for our seniors that we got what we deserved tonight. I'm really, really proud of that group, to get that win for them. It's significant. This is a significant game. This is why we love college sports, because of these type rivalries.''
The Gators shot 58 percent in the second half.
''The atmosphere was great. I felt like we were prepared to get out there. And I'm glad we showed what the Gators are really about,'' Westbrook said.
Playing with three fouls early in the third, Williams took a charge against Shakayla Thomas. Williams and the Gators celebrated wildly, starting a small run that got the Gators going on both ends of the floor.
Florida men's coach Mike White and his players, who were awaiting their home opener against North Carolina A&T, were at the game.
Florida State: Ended a 39-game streak of allowing not allowing 80 points. ... Faced the Gators in its opener for just the second time and first since 1973. ... Is one of 11 NCAA women's programs that have made the Elite Eight multiple times since 2010.
Florida: Finished with 13 steals and 15 assists. ... Rallying from down 15 points tied for the seventh largest come-from-behind win in program history.
Florida State hosts Tulane on Thursday.
Florida host Kennesaw State on Saturday.