Florida State needed Saturday's game against Boston College badly. After suffering through several difficult losses, a rash of injuries and fading postseason hopes, the Seminoles (14-11, 6-6 ACC) needed to get things headed in the right direction against the Eagles. A team they overmatched- at least on paper.
Fortunately a 21-point performance from Michael Snaer and a career high in assists from Devon Bookert were enough to make up for some issues defensively and get the Seminoles back to .500 in ACC play.
"Going into this game I thought Boston College was a little bit dangerous," said head coach Leonard Hamilton of the Eagles (11-14, 3-9 ACC). "I thought our players really adjusted well. We had a little difficulty getting over the ball-screens and [closing out] on the threes. But on the offensive end I thought our guys did well."
The Seminoles jumped out to a 31-26 first half lead behind the early performance of Michael Snaer. The senior guard played 18 minutes in the first and lead the Seminoles with ten points, four rebounds and an assist. Okaro White contributed seven and Aaron Thomas added four in the half. Both Terry Whisnant and Montay Brandon connected on a first-half three as well.
Despite getting out shot 45-to-41 percent, the Seminoles were able to gain the early advantage by out-rebounding the Eagles 19-11, and more importantly 7-1 on the offensive end. But that doesn't tell the complete story either. Despite the seven first-half offensive rebounds, the 'Noles only managed four second-chance points.
Even when the rebounding is there, the Seminoles still need to improve their efficiency on the second effort. A lot of that will come with more strength and experience from the big men on the roster. Boris Bojanovsky, Kiel Turpin and Michael Ojo are all developing but need to learn to be more demonstrative inside. It will come eventually but for now it's a work in progress.
In the second half, the BC three-pointer brought them back and Florida State's rebounding fell off. FSU lead by as many as 12 in the first half but after the Eagles got the hot hand from behind the arc, the Seminoles lost the advantage quickly.
Olivier Hanlan hit a couple three's early in the second, but got into foul trouble and went to the bench. His teammates picked up where he left off though and continued to connect from deep. By the second media timeout it was 45-42 BC and the Seminoles were once again searching for offense and perimeter defense.
On Wednesday against no. 3 Miami the Seminoles were determined to prevent the Hurricanes from beating them on the perimeter and limited UM to just 8 three-point attempts total. That defensive focus was missing against the Eagles though as BC was able to get good looks beyond the arc regularly and ended the day shooting 9-of-16 from deep.
Florida State fought through it though, recapturing the lead 54-50 behind a 12-point burst that included couple of threes from Snaer and Ian Miller and some solid play out of White. White was key for the Seminoles on Saturday, picking up the offensive slack when necessary on his way to 13 points and 8 rebounds.
Florida State continued to pull away as the game wound down, Snaer added to his stellar first half performance with 11 more in the second to finish the day with 21 as well as six rebounds and two assists.
"I thought Michael did a good job of letting the game come to him," said Hamilton. "I thought he was very efficient and provided great leadership on the floor."
Devon Bookert was also key for Florida State, after a quiet first half the freshman point guard had six second-half assists (to bring his total to a career-best eight) and did it without a single turnover. Even despite getting just seven second-half rebounds as a team and losing the overall rebounding battle 27-26 (after dominating in the first half), the performance from Bookert, Snaer and White on the offensive end proved enough to give the Seminoles the advantage late in the game.
It got close at the end though.
Headed into the final 90 seconds Florida State had a 66-60 advantage, but two bad possessions gave BC a chance, letting them pull to within two. With 22 seconds left, trailing 66-64 the Eagles fouled Bookert and sent him to the line to shoot. He hit both, extending the Florida State advantage to four and leaving BC in desperation mode.
The Eagles would add a lay-in on their end with 6.4 seconds remaining and then sent Terry Whisnant to the line. He split the free throws, giving BC a shot to tie it with five seconds remaining. But after the Eagles in-bounded and raced down the court, Ryan Anderson's buzzer-beater hit the front of the rim giving the Seminoles a 69-66 win.
FSU shot 51% on the day and limited themselves to just ten turnovers, it was good enough to mask an effort that featured lax perimeter defense at times and inconsistent rebounding.
But the Seminoles know heading forward against better competition they will need to become a more consistent team in all facets in order to have any chance at making a run in the ACC tournament.
"I'm somewhat encouraged because we've probably been a little more inconsistent [than we were today] the rest of the year," said Hamilton. "But there's still a long ways to go."
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