eminoles get career-high 32 points from Thomas in win over Yellow Jackets
By St. Clair Murraine
Outlook staff writer
For every run that Georgia Tech made, Florida State had an answer. Every time it was the same.
Shakayla Thomas. She turned in a career-high 32-point performance Sunday to carry the Seminoles to a 75-69 victory over the Yellow Jackets in front 3,906 fans at the Civic Center.
So it was only fitting that Thomas was the one that got the ball when Georgia Tech made one last run in the closing minutes to cut FSU’s lead to three, 72-69, with 3:14 left to play. Almost two minutes would elapse as Thomas hit one of two from the foul line then nail a jumper for the final margin.
That completed a record day for the sophomore forward. She had a career-best 14 rebounds and her 32 points were the most scored by a Seminole since the 2014 season.
“I was just taking what I was given,” Thomas said. “If the ball is in my hand and I know I can attack to the rim, why not. I was just doing what I know I can do best.”
The victory kept intact the Seminoles’ home win streak, which started after the Jackets beat them in Tallahassee in 2014.
Since then, the Jackets hadn’t changed much
“Georgia Tech is physical,” said FSU head coach Sue Semrau. “They are tough and we knew it would be tough and we needed to have a stronger mentality than they did.”
For most of the first three quarters, FSU kept Tech’s leading scorer Aaliyah Whiteside in check. She came into the game averaging 20.8 points per game but was held to 17.
Those points didn’t come easily.
The Seminoles’ stingy defense held Whiteside to just three points in the first 10 minutes. But Tech managed to keep the Seminoles from running away by turning to Ciani Cryor.
It wasn’t until late in the half with 5:30 to play that Whiteside got a chance at the line for two foul shot, making one for her first point since she scored the first basket for the Jackets. But by then, FSU was on top 34-20.
FSU benefitted from 17 turnovers by the Jackets, converting them into 30 points. The Seminoles also won on second-chance opportunities, 21-14.
Adut Bulgak was the Seminoles’ second leading scorer on a night when they hit 30 of 67 from the field for 44.8 percent shooting. Bulgak also took down 11 of the Seminoles’ 56 rebounds.
Tech managed 31 boards and they hit 25 of 71 from the field, getting a team-high 18 points from Cryor.
Tech didn’t go away without a fight. A Whiteside’s layup capped a 13-0 run that brought the Jackets within one with just under three minutes left in the first half. Tech took its first lead on the ensuing possession, 36-35, on a 3-pointer from Cryor.
“That was my fault,” Semrau said of the run by Georgia Tech. “I should have called the time out. I should have stopped it.
“We were turning the ball over and I should have settled us (but) I’m really proud of the way they showed a lot of poise.”
Especially Thomas, as she took control by scoring 22 points in the second half.