December 10, 2017 - by
Big Start Leads No. 13/10 Noles to Win vs. ASU

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) – Imani Wright scored 22 points, Shakayla Thomas and AJ Alix had double-doubles and No. 13 Florida State used a big first quarter to turn back Arizona State 77-66 on Sunday.

Thomas had 15 points and 10 rebounds for the Seminoles (10-0) and Alix 14 points with 11 assists. Imani had her fourth 20-point game and with three 3-pointers reached 100 for her career. FSU is 10-0 for the third time ever, and two shy of its best start ever.

Reili Richardson led the Sun Devils (7-3) with a career-high 18 points, Robbi Ryan added 15 and Kianna Ibis 11 with nine rebounds.

Alix had the first five points of the game as the Seminoles jumped on to an 8-0 lead and made three free throws with 41 seconds left for a 27-11 lead after one quarter. ASU cut it to 46-37 at the half but a 10-2 run late in the third quarter helped Florida State to a comfortable 65-51 lead entering the fourth quarter.

A 3 and layup by Ryan got the Sun Devils within eight early in the fourth quarter but an 0 for 5 dry spell over 3:07 late stopped the threat.

The defensive minded teams came into the game allowing 53.6 (ASU) and 57.6 points (FSU).

POST-GAME NOTES
• Shakayla Thomas posted her 13th career double-double, tying for the 17th-most in program history. AJ Alix’s double-double via points and assists was her second of the season.
• Ten of Thomas’ 15 points against the Sun Devils came in the second half.
• Alix’s 11 assists tied for the sixth-most in a game in FSU history. She already has three games this season with 11+ assists.
• Imani Wright’s nine made field goals are a career high at FSU.
• For an opponent that was strong in the post, FSU dominated inside. The Seminoles out-scored Arizona State 40-16 in points in the paint.
• Against one of the nation’s stronger defenses, FSU managed to shoot 49.2 percent (31-of-63) overall. This included a third quarter where it went 8-of-15 (53.3 percent).
• FSU’s 10 fast-break points marked the fifth time it has recorded 10+ points in transition.
• Florida State’s 46 first-half points against Arizona State bested the previous season high by a Sun Devils’ opponent, which was 32 by Buffalo.
• In her 45th game, Imani Wright recorded her 100th 3-point field goal made as a Seminole. The previous fastest was Tanae Davis-Cain recorded her 100th 3 in her 76th game at FSU. Wright tops her mark by 31 games – an entire season.
• With Arizona State known for their defensive prowess, FSU averaged 1.1 points per possession and had a 51.4 scoring percentage.
• FSU and Arizona State played each other for the third time over FSU’s last 80 games, with FSU winning the NCAA Sweet 16 matchup in 2014-15, and Arizona State winning the game in Tempe in 2015-16.
• FSU’s 10-0 start to the season is its best start since 2009-10. The best start to a season in program history is 12-0 in 2004-05.

PLAYER QUOTES:

Florida State Forward Shakayla Thomas

On the physicality of the game:
“We came out there and we had our mindset on what we had planned, so we just attacked them the way we knew how.”

On the mindset of the team after the big first quarter lead:
“Just to keep the same energy that we had, keep that same energy that we had throughout the whole game, and we can play with anybody. So we needed the same energy, the same intensity, and that’s exactly what we did.”

Florida State Guard Imani Wright

On the Texas game coming up:
“Last year we felt that one got away from us, and I’m excited to go back, especially with the group of girls we have now and just compete at a high level. I love games like this so I’m excited for it.”

On her performance in Sunday’s game:
“Having the confidence to take those shots when they were open and my teammates being able to find me, and having the confidence in me. I think I get some of my energy from them just telling me to keep shooting and keep playing hard.”

On her teammate AJ Alix:
“AJ’s a really great point guard and she does really great things for us, she keeps us calm in those moments when things kind of get hectic, and just her presence makes us a much better basketball team.”

Coach Sue Quotes:

Opening Statement:
“This was a great basketball game for us; we have so much respect for Arizona State and the way they defend. I thought it was going to be a great matchup and it was. I think the one thing we can do is, Brittany Brown was watching this game and her teammate is Quinn Dornstauder from Arizona State. So they were roommates and it was kind of a matchup between the two, so hopefully we did Brittany proud a bit too.”

On building a lead in the first quarter:
“They have been starting well in practice, and I think that’s been a change that we’ve seen over the last couple of days. They’ve paid a lot of attention to detail and you can tell. They came out and they were focused and knew what they needed to do and had the courage to go do it.”

On the improvement of Imani Wright since her transfer from Baylor:
“Everybody says ‘Imani’s a three-point shooter,’ but Imani’s a player. Imani defends, she doesn’t rebound, we don’t let her rebound on the offensive end. But she provides our transition defense, a lot of communication. You can see now she’s turning some of those threes down to go to her pull-up jumper, she can get to the rim, she’s just a really special player.”

On importance of regaining momentum when ASU cut into lead:
“Well I thought two things, I thought Shakayla hadn’t scored much in the first half, and I knew Imani could score if she could stay out of foul trouble. So when we’re not playing our best, and that’s happening, then I know that we can turn it. We have a lot of weapons on the offensive end and coming up with some key defensive rebounds and pushing the ball the way that we were able to, I thought that was huge. To have two kids having double doubles, one with assists, I think that’s special too.”

On team’s response to ASU’s toughness:
“I have to credit our scout guys; they did an amazing job two days in practice to prepare us for this. Now the next game is going to be even tougher. And that’s what we wanted to do is just continue to step up our game to be able to compete with the best in the country.”

On what’s next for the team:
“We’re going to really focus on our finals here the next couple of days. That’s the most important thing they do here, they’re great students. So they have to have some time to really focus on that. I’ve found that finals week can be a really interesting time for exam brain. But we’ll make sure we keep in shape, stay sharp with our rhythm, but we’ll give them some time away to make sure they study and get ready. I think we did what we needed to do to take that step forward, but we still have to take that next step. We’re not going to just blow this week off, we’ve got a big game next weekend and towards the end of the week we’ll make sure we are prepared for that.”

On if they came up with a strategy to limit ASU Guard Reili Richardson:
“Not really. We came in with a plan to shut down their post game. They really love to pound it in the post and Reili hasn’t been scoring as much when you look at her percentages. She stepped up and did a great job picking up the slack, but when you look, our game plan was to limit scoring in the paint and it was 40 to 16, so we executed our game plan and that was huge.”

On instilling Florida State’s mindset into transfer players:
“I don’t. It’s them. They made the choice to be here and they make it special for each other. It’s not about me, it’s not about them, they make it special. This group is really fun. Really fun to coach and that one possession, oh my gosh that one possession that we just threw the ball, how many passes was that? It was like five or six and Nausia Woolfolk finishes it off with a three. This team is so selfless and it’s really fun that that’s what they’re competing for is the name on the front and not the name on the back.”

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