Editor's note: Charlie Creme, Graham Hays and Mechelle Voepel each vote to determine espnW's national player of the week, which is awarded every week of the women's college basketball season.
In a week with a lot of intriguing games -- including another UConn-Notre Dame grudge match and a quadruple-overtime marathon between Creighton and Drake -- there were plenty of terrific performances. Shakayla Thomas' stood out -- earning our espnW national player of the week honors -- because of her ability to put No. 13 Florida State on her back and then take it to the finish line in two challenging road games.
Florida State appeared to be on the ropes at Iowa on Wednesday, trailing by 12 points with just over 8 minutes left in the game. But then Thomas took over. She had 17 points in the fourth quarter -- finishing with 31 -- and the Seminoles pulled out a 94-93 victory against the previously unbeaten Hawkeyes.
Sunday, the Seminoles faced James Madison, and once more Thomas came up big. She had 26 points as Florida State remained undefeated with a 79-63 victory. The Dukes led 33-32 at halftime, but Florida State took control by hitting 12 of its first 13 shots of the third quarter. Thomas made five of those baskets and assisted on another.
For the two games, Thomas was 27 of 45 from the field and had 14 rebounds.
A 5-foot-11 senior forward, Thomas is the go-to presence that coach Sue Semrau can rely on. Not just for her offense, but also defensively. Semrau said that Thomas' energetic defense was just as important as her scoring in the Seminoles' rally at Iowa.
Thomas was a standout sixth player her first two seasons with the Seminoles, and then moved into a starting role last year. The ACC coaches picked her as league player of the year after she averaged 14.0 points and 6.0 rebounds.
This season, she's averaging 22.9 points -- shooting 59 percent from the field -- and 7.3 rebounds.
Last season, Florida State fell to eventual national champion South Carolina in the regional final in Stockton, California. The Seminoles lost four seniors off that team. But they have Thomas, their leading scorer last season, back among five seniors this year.
That core group hopes to keep the Seminoles' standards as high as they have been in the past. Florida State was picked to finish fourth in the ACC behind Notre Dame, Louisville and Duke. And the Seminoles will continue to challenge themselves before ACC play even begins, including an upcoming game at No. 2 Texas on Dec. 17.
Florida State has started with an 8-0 mark for just the third time in program history; the Seminoles' best start is 12-0 in 2004-05.
Also nominated: Dyandria Anderson, Florida; Samantha Cooper, Fairfield; Alexis Jennings, South Carolina; Tiana Mangakahia, Syracuse; Sara Rhine, Drake; Kristy Wallace, Baylor