Tallahassee, FL-- It will probably be a night that Brittany Brown remembers for the rest of her life.
Yes, the Florida State Seminoles topped the Louisville Cardinals 72-65.
And yes, this will likely be a win that has an extremely positive impact on the Seminoles when it comes time for Selection Sunday.
But it was also the night that Brown joined the FSU 1,000-point club and became the program’s record-holder for career steals.
With Brown’s toughness, it’s likely that the second stat means more.
Heading into tonight, Brown stood at 273 career steals, three shy of breaking the FSU record. She did more than enough against the Cardinals, recording six steals to put her career total at 279. Brown still has about half of her senior season left to play, so who knows what her ceiling will be.
Brown’s career steal number says a lot about the kind of player she is, and why FSU is at an advantage in a game like tonight: one that was made up of runs by either team, and one where FSU saw themselves down 63-60 with just under four minutes to play.
Brown is the ultimate tough-nosed defender who knows how to play expertly within passing lanes and never hesitates to hustle after a loose ball. She walked away Thursday night with a double-double, scoring 12 points and grabbing 11 boards, but likely could have had a triple-double with either assists, (seven) or her six steals.
However, Brown wasn’t the only Seminole who would pull off a gutsy performance in Thursday night’s game of runs. For as much as she impacted the game, Shakayla Thomas’ influence was felt just as deeply.
She was the Seminoles leading scorer with 24 and their second leading rebounder. But the thing her teammates should be thanking her most for tonight?
That would be the charge that Thomas took in the final minutes of the game. With a one-point lead at 64-63, Thomas put her body on the line to ensure that Louisville would not get another chance to take back their lead.
Moreover, that was after sinking two free throws to put her team up in the first place.
It was far from a perfect night for Thomas. Heading into the half, she only had four points. She would go on to score ten points in each of the last two-quarters and finish the night with a game-high 24.
However, the adversity she faced in the first half allowed her to show her toughness in the second when the game was on the line. Only the mentally toughest players are able to have short memories when it comes to mistakes, and sometimes their stat lines. When they do, they are able to produce like Thomas did.
The performances of Brown and Thomas showed a grit necessary to be successful in the ACC and beyond. Without each other, would FSU have been able to overcome Louisville’s late regained lead?
Tough to say.
However, it’s a question the Seminoles are happy they do not have to think about for the time-being.