GREENSBORO, N.C. (AP) — Shakayla Thomas doesn’t look much like a freshman — or a backup — for No. 7 Florida State.
Thomas scored 17 points in the Seminoles’ 82-43 rout of Virginia Tech on Friday night in an Atlantic Coast Conference quarterfinal.
Thomas, a freshman who earlier this week was selected the ACC’s sixth player of the year, came off the bench as usual and finished her postseason debut 8 of 10.
“I don’t know that I’ve coached an athlete of her caliber,” coach Sue Semrau said. “To get her up and down the floor, she’s not only fast, she’s powerful and she really helps us to establish that tempo.”
Maegan Conwright and Leticia Romero added 11 apiece for the second-seeded Seminoles (28-3), who have won six straight and 15 of 16.
They never trailed, shot 58 percent, built a double-figure lead before the Hokies managed their first field goal. FSU moved within one victory of matching the school’s single-season record.
Vanessa Panousis had nine points to lead 15th-seeded Virginia Tech (11-20), which was trying to win its third game in three nights.
“I just told the ladies in the locker room they gave all us, and everybody that follows our program, a week to remember,” coach Dennis Wolff said. “I don’t think anybody thought we would be sitting here on Friday night.”
The Hokies shot just 28 percent and had 17 turnovers that led to 19 points for the Seminoles.
Kai James added 11 points for Florida State, which will play No. 10 Louisville in a semifinal Saturday — just the fourth time the Seminoles have reached that round.
“We know that every single game is tough and every team in this conference deservers our full attention,” Semrau said.
The Seminoles are one win from equaling the program record of 29 wins set by the 2009-10 team that advanced to the NCAA regional semifinals.
It marked the latest step forward for a program that began the year unranked but steadily climbed up the national polls during what’s arguably the best season in school history.
Thomas and Semrau earned individual awards from the ACC after helping Florida State match its best seed in the conference tournament.
It didn’t take long for the rested Seminoles, playing in their ACC tournament opener, to end Virginia Tech’s hopes for a third straight upset in Greensboro — where the Hokies beat more ACC teams in a 24-hour span (two) than they did all season (one).
This one was all Seminoles.
Florida State needed less than 5 minutes to take a double-figure lead while holding Virginia Tech to one field goal in the first 9 1/2 minutes. Shakena Richardson’s fast-break layup with 6:15 left gave the Seminoles a 20-point lead for the first time at 30-9 and they kept pulling away from there.
“We talked on defense,” Thomas said, “and it led to offense.”
This game looked almost nothing like the teams’ previous meeting — a 59-44 victory by the Seminoles in Blacksburg, Virginia, on Jan. 18. Florida State didn’t have center Adut Bulgak last time and its transition game wasn’t quite as effective as it was in this meeting. “We knew that we needed to increase the pace tonight to be successful,” Semrau said.
Virginia Tech: The Hokies made some history this year. Until now, no last-seeded team had won multiple games at the ACC tournament.
Florida State: The Seminoles won their ACC tournament opener for the third straight year.
Virginia Tech: Season over.
Florida State: Plays either No. 15 North Carolina or No. 10 Louisville on Saturday in the semifinals.
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