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No. 6 Florida State opens season with 82-72 loss at Florida, may have to play without Romero


GAINESVILLE, Florida — Florida State guard Leticia Romero fell to the floor and screamed.

Teammates and team trainers rushed to her side. They eventually helped her to the bench, where she watched the remaining 1:11 with ice wrapped around her left ankle.

It was a painful ending to the Seminoles' disappointing season opener.

Ronnie Williams scored 21 points, Simone Westbrook added 14 and in-state rival upset the sixth-ranked Seminoles 82-72 on Monday.

Florida (1-1) overcame a 15-point deficit to beat FSU (0-1) for just the fourth time in the last 13 tries.

Romero's injury only added to the Seminoles' woes. Coach Sue Semrau called it a high-ankle sprain and had no timetable for Romero's return.

She offered no schedule for getting the 'Noles on track.

"We're learning how to play with a target on our back," 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."

Florida State, with four returning starters from an Elite Eight team, has high expectations for the season. The Seminoles moved up one spot to No. 6 in the latest AP women's basketball poll Monday, the highest ranking in program history.

FSU played well to start the opener, leading 26-11 early in the second quarter, but faded after halftime.

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. Shakayla Thomas and Ivey Slaughter chipped in 10 apiece.

"We can't be going with the runs," Bulgak said. "If we're down, we can't be down. That's something that we need to work on as a team, the chemistry and the mental toughness and staying focused no matter what hits us."

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."

Florida State allowed Florida to shoot 58 percent in the second half.

"We beat a very, very, very good team," Florida coach Amanda Butler said.


Playing with three fouls early in the third, Williams took a charge against 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.


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.

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