Florida State came into Sunday’s match-up on a 6-game win streak, where its average margin of victory was over 32 points. An early game lead from Temple gave some early scares to the fans, but the Seminoles were able to power through it and fight their way to a comfortable 75-47 win before facing top-ranked Connecticut next week.
A fairly equal first quarter left the score at 20-18 with Temple in the lead. A high-scoring first quarter saw Florida State dominate the boards 9-4, but give the ball away with six turnovers. Some early confusion was apparent as FSU guard Leticia Romero could be heard yelling at her teammates about positioning on the offensive side. Small forward Ivey Slaughter had a team-leading five points and three rebounds at the end of the first. Temple’s 67 percent 3-point shooting was what largely gave the Owls the lead.
The second quarter started rough for the Seminoles, letting Temple get an 8-point lead before FSU struck back with 10 unanswered points. Florida State’s issues largely stemmed from missing easy shots.
Multiple times, a player would have an open lane to the rim and miss an easy shot that they usually make. The Owls and Seminoles had the same amount of points in the paint (16) but that is misleading because Florida State was the one attacking the rim more often. FSU just simply couldn’t finish until the last half of the second, when it went on a 16-10 run. Shakayla Thomas had a big second quarter, scoring nine points and grabbing six rebounds to end the half. She lead all scorers at half with 13. The Seminoles were up 34-30 heading into the third quarter.
The Seminoles couldn’t have asked for a better start to the third quarter, going on a 11-2 run in the first five minutes. It was obvious that the defense had tightened up and was denying the passing lanes that were present all throughout the first half. Temple’s 3-point percentage declined all the way to 25 percent in the third, as the Owls were unable to find any easy shots behind the line.
The Seminoles team that had dominated their past five opponents began to emerge in the third, holding Temple to just four points in the quarter. Ivey Slaughter reached a double-double with 11 points and 10 rebounds while Thomas continued to lead all scorers with 19. The score at the end of the third was 56-34.
By the fourth quarter it was obvious that Temple just didn’t have an answer for the Seminoles. Florida State was able to rest most of its starters and beat the Owls in almost every facet of the game. Much like the past five contests, FSU had thoroughly defeated its opponent in convincing fashion.
It remains quite obvious how important Romero is to this FSU team. She’s not just a facilitator for the offense — she’s the court general. Whether it’s telling them where to go or what play to run, Romero gets the team running at their full potential. Her final stats for Sunday were 12 points, one rebound, and one assist, but her impact is far more than that. With Romero, Florida State is an Elite Eight team. Without her, it would have trouble getting past the round of 32. She’s that important.
This game was a blowout because Florida State capitalized in the fundamental areas. It outclassed the Owls in second chance points 23-4, rebounding 45-29, free throw percentage 82 percent to 62, and points off turnovers, 26-15. Besides a rough start, FSU completely took over this game and did not let up until the final buzzer.
Thomas was the star of the game, totaling 23 points and 10 rebounds while providing tenacious defense at the other end of the court. Her athleticism was unable to be countered. FSU head coach Sue Semrau made a point in her press conference that Thomas is an incredibly versatile player, doing everything that she asks of her on either side of the court.
Florida State’s next game is Friday against No.1 Connecticut in Uncasville. The game will be broadcast on ESPN2.
Featured image courtesy of Tallahassee Democrat