February 28, 2016 - by
Romero Pours in 24 in Nail-Biting Win over Miami

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — Leticia Romero scored a career-high 24 points, including five free throws in the final 17 seconds, and No. 12 Florida State defeated No. 17 Miami 70-67 on Sunday to end the regular season.

After Romero’s first two free throws made it 67-61, she fouled Michelle Woods, who converted a 3-point play. Following two more free throws at 7.5 seconds, Adrienne Motley drained a 3-pointer. By the time Romero was fouled on the inbounds play, only .2 seconds remained and she hit one of two foul shots.

Shakayla Thomas had 14 of her 22 points in the second half for the Seminoles (23-6, 13-3), who were locked into the fourth-seed for the ACC tournament.

Motley led the Hurricanes (22-7, 10-6), the fifth seed, with 18 points and Jessica Thomas added 14 points.

The Seminoles erased a six-point deficit with an 11-1 run and were up 65-58 with 51 seconds left.



• Florida State is seeded fourth in the ACC Tournament and will face the winner of No. 5 seed Miami/No. 12 Pitt & No. 13 UNC on Friday at 11 a.m. on the ACC’s regional sports networks.
• FSU’s 13 ACC wins is its second-most in program history, only trailing last year’s 14-win team.
• The Seminoles finish the regular season with 23 wins, tying for the fourth-most regular-season victories in program history.
• Junior point guard Leticia Romero’s 24 points were a career high and also marked her second career 20-point performance. Romero’s other game in the 20’s was FSU’s most important win from last season, scoring 21 against Arizona State in the NCAA Sweet 16 (March 27, 2015).
• Romero’s eight field goals made tie her season high that she set against Rutgers on Dec. 3, 2015.
• In her four-game career against Miami, Romero is averaging 16.8 points, 6.8 rebounds, five assists and shooting 62.2 percent (23-of-37) from the floor. In FSU’s 69-58 win at Miami on Jan. 24, she led the Seminoles with 19 points in that game.
• Sophomore forward Shakayla Thomas finished with 22 points, her eighth 20-point performance of the season. She shot 9-of-14 from the field to mark her 22nd game shooting 50 percent or better in 28 games played.
• Thomas’ 22 points also give her 27 double-figure games in 28 games played this season. Her nine field goals made is the 10th time this season she has made nine or more baskets in a game.
• In her last two second halves played against Miami and NC State, Thomas is averaging 13.5 points and shooting 11-of-20 from the floor.
• Freshman Maria Conde produced arguably her best game of the season, contributing with 14 points (5-of-6) while tying her career high with two 3-point field goals. The Madrid, Spain, native had nine of her 14 points in the second half.
• FSU shot 57.7 percent (15-of-26) in the second half.
• The Seminoles outscored Miami 26-19 in the decisive fourth period, tying their season high for fourth-period scoring vs. ACC opponents.
• FSU’s 70-67 win marked its smallest won/loss margin in a game this season. The three-point win eclipsed last game’s four-point win (56-52) at NC State.
• The Seminoles are now 4-1 vs. Miami when playing each other as ranked opponents.
• FSU has won nine of the last 10 games against the Hurricanes and is now 21-2 vs. Florida-based opponents since the 2012-13 season.
• Thomas and Conde combined to outscore Miami in bench points, 36-11.
• FSU was out-rebounded for just the fifth time this season, getting edged by Miami 34-28 on the glass. Miami also out-rebounded FSU in the first meeting as well.


Opening Statement:
“That’s what a rivalry game looks like. Obviously, it wasn’t the prettiest game. It wasn’t the best game that I think either team has played. That’s two games where my team has had to come down the stretch and make big plays. I think Leti (Romero) has really changed since Syracuse. She has changed who she is as a player and now to have Maria (Conde). Maria was fabulous. I am not talking offensively, she was fabulous offensively but that has been the biggest growth in her game. We always knew what she could do offensively. Then again Shakayla Thomas is a kid that wants to fight, wants the ball in her hands and we love to have somebody like that on our team.”

Coach, can you just talk about a win against a rivalry team that is ranked at the end of the season right before the ACC tournament?
“The way it happened, the way the crowd responded; it was a tremendous crowd. It was loud and I thought that gave us a ton of energy as well. Kids making big plays. You’re at the end of the year and you’re tired and you can tell. This always happens in the NCAA Tournament, you just don’t always shoot the ball great. You have to rely on your defense. I don’t know that we were convinced of that until this game. I didn’t think we did a great job defensively but credit to Miami for making great plays.”

Into the fourth quarter I think they went about six minutes without a field goal. Were the girls doing anything differently or just more effort?

“I would like to say that we were doing something differently as an adjustment but what we talked about was the way that we were defending the ball screens. Adut (Bulgak) doesn’t have great numbers here this afternoon but she made a difference and I thought set the tone in the way that we defended the ball screens in the fourth quarter. It was tough for her and Ivey (Slaughter) both getting that fourth foul but that was the difference in making sure that it was an urgency type of thing. I don’t know if it was effort or just a sense of urgency.”

Coach how encouraging is it to see that Maria has evolved into this offensive weapon?
“Maria could be an offensive weapon. What kept her off the floor was defensively.  There is no reason to keep her off the floor. When you look at Adrienne Motley and what she is able to do. We are seeing the matchup between Maria Conde and Adrienne Motley, and she’s getting it done. It’s not like ‘go guard someone that doesn’t matter,’ that’s huge. It is really fun to see her growth.”

Coach would you talk about the impact that Adut and Emiah (Bingley) have had on this team this season, and the whole time that they have been a part of this team?
 “Where do I begin? I think that Emiah came to us at a time where we really needed someone with grit that could defend and shoot the ball. She was that player. She was able to come in and play in the middle of the year; she only played one semester at her previous school and then came in a semester the next year. She gave us so many different elements. I was sharing earlier today that she has a little bit of it all; she has passion, she’s got skill, and she’s got the feel for the game. That has been really great to have. Adut, that kid is going to have a very long career in basketball. For us to lose Natasha Howard and for Adut to step in, and rebound and score the ball she did and does. I have absolutely loved coaching her.”

Can you talk about the grind and how draining this season is, and now you’ve got the ACC tournament. What is the approach?
“Well we will take tomorrow off and it is just really nice to have the double bye and not have to play until Friday. At the same time you don’t want to sit around and do nothing because you have to be game ready. We will have good practices on Tuesday and Wednesday and fly up Wednesday night. Thursday morning we have a 7:30am shoot around because we have morning games, 11am. We will get up, I’ll send them to bed about nine the night before and I’m sure they’ll all go to sleep [chuckles]. Then you have to come out and you have to be ready to play. Fortunately we are very familiar with the teams that we may play in the first couple of rounds.”

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