TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) – Shakayla Thomas scored 10 of her 17 points during the decisive first quarter, and No. 7 Florida State cruised to a 77-58 victory over Syracuse on Thursday night.
The Seminoles (18-2, 6-1 Atlantic Coast Conference) hit 11 of their first 14 from the field, including nine straight during one stretch, as they built a 26-5 lead with 2:35 remaining in the first quarter. The Orange (13-7, 4-3) made their first two shots and then missed their next 10 as FSU went on an 18-0 run.
Leticia Romero added 12 points and Imani Wright 11 for the Seminoles, who led 72-39 early in the fourth quarter.
Alexis Peterson, who leads the ACC in scoring, had a game-high 26 points for Syracuse, with 21 coming in the second half.
POST-GAME NOTES BY FSU SPORTS INFORMATION:
• Florida State assisted on 75.8 percent of its made field goals (22 assists on 29 baskets), its highest assist percentage of the season.
• FSU’s win continues its current lead in the ACC standings at 6-1 in conference play. Notre Dame trails in second place at 5-1.
• The Seminoles’ 18-2 overall record ties for the best 20-game start in school history with the 2014-15 squad and the 2004-05 team.
• Junior forward Shakayla Thomas led FSU with 17 points (7-of-11), leading the team in scoring for the eighth time this season and 30th time in her career. Thomas recorded her 500th career made field goal in the game, making her the seventh-fastest player in FSU history to reach that feat (89 games).
• Through 20 games played, FSU has not let an opponent shoot 50 percent or better. Syracuse shot 38.2 percent for the contest.
• Florida State raced out to a 26-7 first-period lead, creating a 54-11 first-period advantage over the last two games. FSU led 45-20 at halftime, marking a 92-34 halftime advantage over the last two games.
• Four Seminoles finished in double figures including Thomas (17), Romero (12), Imani Wright (11) and Ivey Slaughter (10). FSU has had four or more players in double figures in 14 games this season.
• FSU finished the game shooting 53.7 percent (29-of-54) from the floor, its best shooting game in ACC play this season.
• Romero’s eight assists were a season high.
• Brittany Brown added to her all-time steals lead with five, giving her 286 for her career. Brown has cracked the ACC’s Top 25 career steals list, tying former players Ramona O’Neal (Clemson, 1986-89) and Andrea Stinson (NC State, 1989-91) for 24th.
• Brown also led all players on Thursday with nine rebounds.
• In 17 minutes off the bench, freshman Nicki Ekhomu contributed with eight points.
POST-GAME NOTES COMPILED BY FSU SPORTS INFORMATION:
• The Seminoles held Duke to just 25.4 percent (15-of-59) from the floor. That is the 13th-lowest shooting effort by an FSU opponent ever, and the third-lowest by an ACC opponent. It was the lowest shooting percentage by an ACC opponent since Wake Forest shot 21.8 percent (12-of-55) vs. FSU on Feb. 7, 2010.
• Florida State held Duke to 0-for-11 from beyond the arc. The stingy defensive effort snapped a 55-game streak in which Duke made at least one 3-point field goal.
• FSU held redshirt junior standout guard Rebecca Greenwell to two points on 0-of-5 shooting. It was just the third time in her career where she did not record a field goal made.
• The Seminoles’ 24-point win against Duke was its largest margin of victory vs. the Blue Devils. Their previous high was in each of the two previous wins in the series (69-53 in 2016, 74-58 in 2015) which came at 16 points apiece.
• Junior forward Shakayla Thomas had a season-best performance on Sunday. Her season-high 22 points came by way of her season-best 10 made field goals (10-of-17) while adding eight rebounds.
• FSU used a solid second-half shooting effort to race past Duke, going 18-of-34 (52.9 percent) in the third and fourth periods.
• FSU held Duke to just four assists and 20 turnovers.
• For the third time this season, redshirt junior Imani Wright connected on a season-best four 3-pointers. Her 14 points marked her 11th double-figure game of the season.
• Junior forward Chatrice White added four blocks for the second straight game, equaling her season high as well as the most by an FSU player this season.
• FSU’s win over Duke is its third straight in the series, its longest win streak since winning four straight against the Blue Devils from Jan. 2, 1992-Feb. 28, 1993.
• For the second straight season, FSU defeated Duke and UNC in the same week. It is the fifth time it has defeated both schools in the same year.
• The Seminoles now lead the ACC with four AP Top 25 wins, and are 4-1 this season vs. nationally-ranked opponents. FSU is on a four-game win streak vs. the AP Top 25, the longest in program history.
• Senior guard Brittany Brown added six points on Sunday, upping her career total to 998 points. She is just two points shy of becoming the 34th Seminole to reach 1,000 career points.
• Brown did not record a steal on Sunday, leaving her at 273 for her career. She needs three steals to break the FSU career record of 275 held by former player Alicia “Ice” Gladden (2003-07).
• Thomas led the Seminoles with eight rebounds, raising her season average to 7.6 rebounds per game against Top 25 opponents – the most by a Seminole.
FLORIDA STATE HEAD COACH SUE SEMRAU QUOTES
On today’s performance:
“Well first of all, just to compliment what Joanne’s done with her team, you know they don’t have as much depth as they’ve had in the past and boy they’ve had some big wins. And when you’re preparing for a team that beat South Carolina and Louisville and Kentucky you feel that attention and focus was on our defense and I thought our defense was exceptional. You know, Rebecca [Greenwell], Lexie Brown are prolific scorers. You know, they averaged 40 a game between them and for our team defense to hold them to 10 was quite an accomplishment so I’m proud of our team for that.”
On Duke head coach Joanne P. McCallie saying this is the best Florida State team in the history of the program:
“We’re good right now and we weren’t good on last Monday night. So, we’ve got to focus in and do what we do and be who we can be in order to live up to that, and that’s something that this team, I think, is excited to do and it takes a lot of work and it’s going to take a lot of focus.”
On FSU’s defense against Lexie Brown:
“Again, I think that the focus wasn’t just about Shakayla scoring. I mean, Shakayla did a tremendous job defensively. Everybody, it took everybody to help out on Lexie [Brown] and Rebecca [Greenwell]. But, she worked on the offensive end to get position and then to be able to finish against the number one shot-blocking team in the ACC and she got her first two blocked and just kept going at it and that’s the kind of fight and perseverance I love about Shakayla and her heart.”
On facing one of the top three point shooting teams:
“And again, I think that was our team focus and a lot of times we’d have our guards, they knew how they were going to defend and our post players helped and I thought that they played, what, how many minutes, they generally play 40 minutes a game and they’re great. And its everybody and those three kids can shoot it on the perimeter and, again, it’s just great team defense.”
On a new attendance record:
“We’ve been fighting for 20 years to get this kind of buzz and Tallahassee is really waking up to being in support of us. And I thank the Alumni that was in attendance today for our team and the Boosters that have generously donated so much money to get this arena to make it a fun place to watch a game now. And now it’s finally a fun place to change clothes in; you know, now we opened our new locker room yesterday, and to open it this way is fun.”
On whether defense is what she wants out of the team the most:
“I don’t want to limit scoring but I definitely want that type of defensive effort because that’s what wins basketball games. You can never rely on the fact that you’re going to hit shots and so we talked about that, and they bought in, and they made it happen.”
On Imani Wright stepping up:
“Well, we kind of shut her down here tonight, just because she has been doing so much here and just because she’s up signing autographs out there now and all of that, but she’s a gamer. It’s been fun to watch different people step up and Imani loves step up in big games.”
On this week of big events:
“It’s big time basketball, and its ACC basketball and we get to do it at home and in front of our home crowd. It’s exciting and it’s even more fun when I have players like Shakayla to do it with.”
On whether the increased attendance is satisfying to see:
“Not yet. I mean, we’re not done yet and that’s 6,000, eh. We want to fill this place; this can turn into a great basketball town and you look at what the other sports have done and just the excellence across the board, we want to be a part of that.”
FLORIDA STATE JUNIOR FORWARD SHAKAYLA THOMAS
When asked about how hard it was to defend two of the top scorers in the ACC:
“Honestly, with the team I have I had no worries, because I knew we were going to bounce back regardless, so it was a team effort stopping their best players.”
When asked about the defense mentality they showed out in the court, does it come down to the coaches or the players?
“Coaches tell us in practice and it is our job to utilize it in the games. So, I feel like we took what the coaches told us and applied it to the game, and we came together as a team.”
DUKE HEAD COACH JOANNE P. McCALLIE
“That was a very physical good game. I am proud of our aggressive effort and some of our rebounding at times and our defense as well especially in the first half. I thought Florida State did a great job defending. We rushed some shots that we need to slow down and execute a bit more. You definitely have to give them credit for the way they played. The transfers are excellent; they are a very different team this year. [Imani Wright] is a terrific guard, a confident guard and they found her particularly in the second half. She makes a world of difference on this team. [Chatrice White] for them as well, the transfer from Illinois, her big body is very helpful and she did a great job also. I like how we scrapped, we had opportunity being down 10, 11, 12 and I really thought we could tip it the other direction. I was confident that we could but we did not and that is disappointing for us. We definitely expected more of this and ourselves. This will be a great lesson for us. It has been an interesting week having played our third game moving through this week. I think it has taught us a lot about ourselves and it is a great opportunity for us to grow and learn.”
On the biggest lesson her team learned tonight:
“There are many lessons, turning the ball over during critical times is important in maintaining possession when you are trying to fight back, especially in a deficit. We will look for little executions. I think we will be a little disappointed when we see them on film after this. That will be really important and very good for us offensively. It is one of those things again that is very disappointing but a lesson that we are going to take and use it for the positive.
On Duke outrebounding Florida State on the offensive boards:
“We have not had 18 offensive rebounds all year in a game. It is big putting pieces together at the same time. At the same time we haven’t had four assists. Learning that this is what the season is about, having great competition and learning with that. Handling our frustration when things are not going our way and that is all part of what it is in getting better.”
On Duke’s poor shooting performance:
“We will take a look at that. You want to be careful with your memory, you want to wait and see the film. For example, were the shots super quick, off-balance, what were they? If it was just a miss then that does happen sometimes. We have been shooting a beautiful percentage against a lot of very good teams. At the same time you have to be able to respond to any situation. We need to take a look at some of that and see where the opportunities were and where we can get more.
On this Florida State team:
“This is the best Florida State team in the history of Florida State. They don’t get any better than this with the senior leadership and the transfers. This is the best by far.”
Lexie Brown, Redshirt Junior Guard
On Florida State’s defense:
“I think that they were just very aggressive on the both of us. When I got rid of the ball they didn’t really make it easy for us to get it back. I noticed that when I did get the ball that the whole help side was focusing on where I was going and what I was doing with the ball. I personally could have made better decisions with my passing and decision-making. That was the first time we have seen a defense like that and I think they did a really good job.”