February 8, 2018 - by
Noles Get Key Win Over Virginia

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) – Shakayla Thomas scored 20 points, AJ Alix added 17 and No. 12 Florida State turned back Virginia 77-62.

Imani Wright added 14 points for the Seminoles (20-4, 8-3 Atlantic Coast Conference), who reached 20 wins for the 12th time under coach Sue Semrau

Felicia Aiyeotan had 15 points and 13 rebounds for the Cavaliers (15-9, 8-3) and Aliyah Huland El added 13 points. Jocelyn Willoughby grabbed 10 rebounds as Virginia outrebounded the Seminoles, who are third in the country at plus-12.2 boards, 43-32.

Chatrice White had a 3-pointer and seven points in an early 12-0 for the Seminoles, who led 19-9 after one quarter. A 20-2 run in the second quarter, started by a pair of Alix 3s followed by a Wright 3, led to a 42-21 lead at the half.

Down 19 entering the fourth quarter, the Cavs got within eight before FSU made 7 of 8 free throws in the last 1:17.

• Shakayla Thomas has reached 1,811 career points, tying for second in program history with Natasha Howard (2010-14). FSU’s all-time leading scorer is Sue Galkantas (2,323 career points).
• Thomas’ 20 points was her ninth 20-point game of the season, her 25th of her career and her second against UVA.
• FSU’s 77 points scored tied for the most allowed by Virginia, which also surrendered a season-high 77 last game vs. Louisville.
• Imani Wright’s three 3-point field goals padded her season-best total to 82.
• Sophomore Nicki Ekhomu’s key 11 points was her first game in double figures since having 16 against Virginia Tech on Jan. 14.
• Thursday’s win over UVA coupled with NC State’s loss at Miami puts FSU at third in the ACC, holding an 8-3 tie-breaker with the Cavaliers.
• AJ Alix produced her 15th double-figure game by the second quarter, already totaling 11 by halftime.
• Florida State has now won eight of its last 13 meetings with Virginia.
• FSU has won five of its last six games at home vs. the Cavaliers.
• Shakayla Thomas played in her 126th career game on Thursday night, tying FSU legend Alicia “Ice” Gladden for the 13th-most in program history.
• The FSU senior class, led by four-year players Shakayla Thomas and Ama Degbeon, now has 105 wins. Last year’s class consisting of Brittany Brown, Ivey Slaughter, Kai James, Gabby Bevillard and Leticia Romero had a program-record 106 wins.
• UVA’s nine first-quarter points scored against the Noles was the second-lowest by an ACC opponent this season. Virginia Tech had eight on Jan. 14.

Head coach Sue Semrau
Opening statement…
“That’s a great Virginia team and our players were really locked in at practice and really followed the game plan, especially on the defensive end, and I thought that really got us going on the offensive end.”

On the defense in the first quarter…
“Well we knew they were a ball screen team and so we really worked on that in practice and I thought that the way we defended ball screens really took them out of rhythm. You could see they went away from that in the second half. I just credit the players for really locking in on that.”

On the offense…
“77 points, it was fun to put the ball in basket again. That was the most points anyone has put up on them. Us and Louisville have put 77 up. I think again that’s the way that we move the ball, the way that we attack the basket, the way that we continue to push was the difference for us offensively.”

On Chatrice White’s performance tonight battling inside…
“Man, that girl was something else tonight and it started from the get go. When you’re guarding the tallest active women’s player in the country and you feel dwarfed, you have got to really exert some energy. I thought she did a great job, but her teammates did a great job helping and that put us in a good position. She shot the ball with confidence, she got us going early, Shakayla got us going early, AJ got us going early and I thought that was the difference for us.”

On having such a balanced offense…
“Once you have to take something away, it leaves something else. Whether it’s starting with an outside threat and then going inside or vice versa, we like to have that balance. But, I just like to have Shakayla Thomas on my team. I got Shakayla and other people don’t.”

On the effort in forcing turnovers…
“Again, it was just that defensive effort. It wasn’t that they were just guarding the action, they were aggressively guarding the action. That starts with their focus at practice.”

On recruiting Shakayla…
“I knew that she could be one of the best players that’s ever been here, and she is. Again, what she’s able to do is really incredible. She’s not 6’3” and she has really worked her way into being one of the elite collegiate players in the country.”

Senior forward Shakayla Thomas
On what it means to reach second all-time in scoring…
“It’s never been about me. I feel like my teammates really put me in a position to get to the rim, get the ball in my hand, and search for good shots. Same thing with Natasha (Howard), people would get her the ball, so I feel like it’s almost the same team.”

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