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'Noles, Thornton keep Terps at bay

Published Feb. 23, 2006

A winning conference record is foreign territory for Florida State in late February, but it kept its proverbial NCAA bubble afloat Wednesday night with a 71-60 victory over Maryland at the Donald L. Tucker Center.

Maryland's early struggles from the field, coupled with a standout game from FSU forward Al Thornton, kept the Seminoles ahead by double digits for the majority of the second half.

The Terrapins (16-10, 6-7 ACC) fell behind early, thanks to 8-of-26 (30.8 percent) shooting in the first half.

"We didn't shoot well tonight, but we didn't execute well either," said Maryland coach Gary Williams. "It's a team thing; everyone on the court has to take responsibility."

Thornton, a 6-7 junior from Perry, Ga., took advantage, providing the offensive push for the Seminoles with 27 points and 12 rebounds. Thornton had a double double in the books with 12 minutes left in the game.

"Thornton's really tough to guard when he puts it on the floor," said Williams. "He's just a good player."

Florida State (17-7, 7-6 ACC) had not been .500 in Atlantic Coast Conference play through 12 games since the 1992-93 squad that went 12-4 and reached the Elite Eight in the NCAA Tournament.

Isaiah Swann - who started and played only four minutes in FSU's win over Virginia on Saturday - added 12 points in the winning effort. Nik Caner-Medley led the Terps with 19 points on 7-of-16 shooting.

Sloppiness defined the first 20 minutes as both teams combined for 25 team fouls and 20 turnovers. All three Florida State centers - Alexander Johnson, Diego Romero and Uche Echefu - were each called for two fouls by the 8:24 mark. Maryland didn't dodge the personal foul bug either; starters Mike Jones and Ekene Ibekwe each had three fouls by halftime.

Fresh off a 3-point basket on the offensive end, Johnson was called for his second foul 2:08 into the game, sending him to the bench for the rest of the half. The surging 6-10 junior had tallied five double-doubles in seven contest coming into Wednesday's game.

The Seminoles didn't miss a beat, however, as they stretched their lead to 14 and ended the first period with a 37-27 edge.

"It was a big game for both teams, (FSU) got the win, and there's no reason why they shouldn't be an NCAA Tournament team," Williams said. "I think they can get in (the NCAA Tournament) and do some damage."