Seniors leading the way for No. 8 Florida State women
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) The seniors on Florida State's women's basketball team will leave as the winningest class in program history. But the eighth-ranked Seminoles still have two huge goals they want to accomplish down the stretch.
Going into Thursday's game against Pittsburgh, Florida State still has a chance for at least a share of the Atlantic Coast Conference regular-season title and the top seed for next week's conference tournament. The quartet of Brittany Brown, Kai James, Leticia Romero and Ivey Slaughter is also hoping to get the Seminoles to the Final Four for the first time.
''We've set a high standard but those are two things that we want to do,'' Slaughter said. ''Being so close our sophomore year (the Elite Eight) it put a bitter taste in our mouths that I think it would be a great end to an amazing story.''
Slaughter, Brown and Romero have formed the core of the starting lineup for FSU (24-4, 12-2 ACC), which has a 102-29 record since the start of the 2013-14 season.
Romero, who is averaging 12.1 points per game, is the only women's player in Division I to be shooting 50 percent from the field and 3-pointers along with 90 percent on free throws (50 percent shooting overall; 51.8 percent from 3-point range; 93.7 percent from free throw line). The 5-foot-8 guard led the team in scoring for most of the season but is averaging only 6.7 points over the past seven games.
Brown, a 5-8 guard who is averaging 9.6 points, has the program record for starts (121) and added another milestone in last Saturday's win over Clemson when she became the first Florida State women's player and 19th in ACC history to have over 300 career steals.
Slaughter has 21 career double-double games, which is third among current ACC players. The 6-1 forward ranks in the top 10 in the conference in offensive rebounds (fifth), free throw percentage (eighth) and field goal percentage (eighth) while averaging 10.1 points and team-leading 6.2 rebounds.
''They complement one another so well and have come together to do something special,'' Florida State coach Sue Semrau said.
Florida State has made to at least the Sweet 16 the past two seasons, but last year's team struggled down the stretch before the NCAA Tournament when it dropped three of its final five games. Losses to Texas and Virginia last week have made some wonder if it could happen for the second straight season but Slaughter thinks the team is back on track after a 33-point win last Saturday against Clemson.
''We hit a rough patch during both games where things weren't going our way and after those two losses we've figured out that out,'' she said. ''Also we know we can't hold our heads down because once we do that things are just going to get worse for us.''
Junior Shakayla Thomas, who is the team's leading scorer (15.0 points), remains questionable after she injured her shoulder against Virginia.
Even though Semrau wants to keep the focus on Pitt, most of the attention is already on Sunday's contest at league leader and fifth-ranked Notre Dame. The Irish host Boston College on Thursday but an FSU win over the Panthers would set the Seminoles up to have a chance for at least a share of regular-season title and the top seed in the ACC Tournament.
FSU was ACC co-champions in 2009 and 2010 and have never won the tournament.
''They have a dream of that (winning the ACC and getting to the Women's Final Four) and it's a powerful thing. We still have to have a lot of things go the right way and there's a lot of work to be done,'' Semrau said.
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