What’s heart-stopping to one fanbase can can be downright heartbreaking to another, and that was certainly the case when FSU and Virginia Tech met in an ACC quarterfinal on Thursday afternoon. ACC 4-seed Florida State edged the 5th-seeded Hokies 65-63 in an overtime thriller that included some astounding clutch plays from several Seminoles.
The Seminoles got off to a great start in this one, as Trent Forrest, PJ Savoy, and Devin Vassell all made their first threes, while Tech started ice cold. Both squads played solid defense at the onset, but FSU hitting from outside staked the ’Noles to a 17-4 lead. The refs stayed out of the way, calling just two fouls, total, for more than 7 minutes after the opening tip.
The first three whistles of the game went against VT, until the 11:51 mark of the first half, when the refs decided to make themselves known, calling four fouls on FSU in 22 seconds and spurring a 13-2 Tech run over a 9-minute stretch with no calls against the Hokies.
One of the best long-range shooting teams in the country, Virginia Tech missed all 11 of its first-half treys, but flexed on the inside while dominating paint scoring 18-6. FSU’s bigs, Christ Koumadje, Phil Cofer, and Mfiondu Kabengele, combined for zero first-half points, and the Seminoles led 26-24 at the break, with both teams shooting 38%.
Tech stayed cold after intermission, not making a field goal for more than five minutes. That and an increased defensive presence from Kabengele, who had three second-half blocks, pushed the FSU advantage to 33-25. But that wouldn’t last, as VT, after missing its first 12 threes, then made three of its next four, helping to knot the game at 48 with 3:52 remaining. Both defenses tightened, but the Hokies moved better on offense and got better looks, eventually taking their first lead of the game, 54-53, on a slam by Kerry Blackshear with 1:16 to go.
It came down to one look for FSU, which trailed 56-53 with 6.3 seconds left. Forrest found Vassell in the corner, and the freshman, who led Florida State with 14 points on 4 treys, drilled a ridiculous, hotly contested three to send the second straight Seminoles-Hokies tilt to OT.
But the big shots didn’t end there. The Hokies’ Nickeil Alexander-Walker, who had a game-high 21 points, again put the ’Noles down three with under two minutes left, but Phil Cofer (3-5 from deep) responded with his own difficult bomb to tie the score with 75 seconds remaining.
Neither team could score, and a defensive stand saw Florida State emerge with the ball and time winding down. Forrest brought it up and found Terance Mann on the right side. Mann then authored a shot for the ages, tossing up an impossible runner as he fell out of bounds that rattled around and fell, giving FSU a 65-63 lead with 1.8 seconds left.
Tech called timeout and set up a play, but their desperation heave was off the mark, and the Seminoles celebrated their 13th win in their last 14th games. Florida State most likely locked up at least a 4-seed in the NCAA Tournament with the victory, but the ’Noles could improve that by beating top-seeded Virginia in the semifinals on Friday night.