March 13, 2007
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) -Al Thornton scored 24 points to lead Florida State to a 77-61 victory over Toledo in the first round of the NIT on Tuesday night.
The Seminoles (21-12) will host Michigan in a second-round game Thursday. The Wolverines (22-12) advanced with a 68-58 win Tuesday over Utah State.
Florida State led 39-23 at the half behind 15 points from Thornton, who went scoreless the first 5:36 of the game before breaking loose.
In a span of just 2:33, Thornton scored four baskets, assisted on another, blocked a shot and grabbed a pair of rebounds as the Seminoles took a 20-13 lead midway through the first half. Thornton’s first basket, a layup, gave Florida State the lead for good at 9-8.
Justin Ingram’s 17 points led Toledo (19-13), the Mid-American Conference regular-season champions. Keonta Howell and Florentino Valencia added 13 apiece for the Rockets.
The Seminoles shot 62.3 percent from the floor and outrebounded the smaller Rockets 33-23. Toledo shot only 41.4 percent in the game, despite Howell and Valencia going 10-for-16.
Toledo managed to cut its deficit to 45-36 with 15:22 left on two free throws by Howell, but Thornton responded with a dunk and Florida State steadily built its lead to as many as 18 before coach Leonard Hamilton emptied his bench with 1:30 left.
Florida State’s reserves scored 23 points to just six for Toledo.
Thornton now has 1,494 points career points, surpassing former Seminoles and Boston Celtics great Dave Cowens as the eighth leading scorer in school history.
The 6-foot-8 Thornton, the leading scorer in the Atlantic Coast Conference this season, hit 11 of his final 15 shots after missing his first two. He has scored in double figures in all of Florida State’s games this season.