The Florida State Seminoles defeated the Loyola Marymount Lions at UNF Arena on Sunday evening in Jacksonville, Florida. In a game where Leonard Hamilton prioritized playing time and development for younger ‘Noles with lots of substitutions, suffocating defense and a strong run to end the first half kept Florida State in control despite the physical play of the Lions.
FSU was sloppy with the ball at times and ice cold from midrange and three point range in the first 10 minutes of the game. Early in the contest, the ‘Noles seemed much more interested in immediately passing to the next guy rather than even sizing up the rim, and the indecision lead to several turnovers and poor shots. FSU’s stingy defense forced LMU into several turnovers and poor shots as well, making for an ugly start to the game.
The next 10 minutes were a different story, particularly towards the end of the half. Numerous ‘Noles translated several hustle plays and defensive stands into a 15 point advantage by the time the buzzer sounded. Lead by Butler, Fletcher, and Ngom, FSU’s stifling defense kicked it up a notch and held the Lions to three points in the final 10 minutes of the first half (a 19-3 run for the garnet and gold).
The second half saw the ‘Noles drill three triples in succession, pushing the FSU lead to 41-19 with 17:17 remaining in the game. LMU’s Joe Quintana rifled off three triples of his own soon after, but the ‘Noles were able to maintain control and held a 55-33 lead with 11:59 left. LMU tried to rally but the Seminoles stayed comfortably in control, weathering ugly possessions and using active hands on defense to push the lead to 20 with under six minutes remaining. The rest was gravy for the Seminoles, ultimately cruising to a 73-45 victory.
Matthew Cleveland led the Seminoles with 13 points, with Malik Osborne and Tanor Ngom each adding 10 points.
The Seminoles trotted out a starting five of Raiquan Evans, Anthony Polite, Caleb Mills, Malik Osborne, and Tanor Ngom.
LMU hit a 3 to open the game. Evans forced a nice steal in the first minute, leading to a LMU foul, but the Noles would give it right back, leading to a dunk to put LMU up 5-0. Tanor Ngom made his presence felt with a strong hook to make it 5-2. LMU answered with a 3, but a technical foul on LMU’s Scott for taunting FSU bench allowed Malik Osborne to hit two free throws, bringing the score to 8-4. Several offensive rebounds on the next Seminole possession, products of great team hustle, resulted in two fouls on LMU. Ngom collected another offensive rebound, put it in to make it 8-6. Ngom was very active down low and it was contagious for the Seminoles. An Offensive foul on LMU 34 meant LMU 5 fouls in the first 3 minutes of play. After another offensive rebound by polite, Evans sank a 3 to give FSU its first lead, 9-8. Caleb Mills was ice cold early on and unable to draw contact on several drives. An alley-oop from Cleveland to McLeod was followed by Butler swatting a LMU shot into the stands and Cleveland stealing a pass and finishing on the other end, giving the Noles a 13-8 cushion. Two bogus traveling calls on Tanor Ngom led to LMU taking the lead, 14-13, with 10:30 to go in the first half.
Mills finally got a layup to drop, giving FSU a 15-14 lead with 8:00 to go, before Malik Osborne got flattened on a physical screen. after back-and-forth sloppy possessions, Mills converted a nice drive to push the lead to 17-14 with 6:19 left in the first half. A nice feed from Evans to McLeod lead to an easy lay-in, followed by a LMU turnover. Wilkes capitalized with a three, followed by an excellent hustle play to give the ball back to FSU, but a phantom offensive push off was then called on Wilkes, eliciting a cascade of boos from the crowd. Those boos turned to cheers when Fletcher channeled his inner Lebron James and destroyed a LMU layup attempt off the board, resulting in a fast break foul and Cleveland hitting a free throw on the other end to push the FSU lead to eight with 3:53 to go. A gorgeous feed from Warley lead to a layup for Cleveland, followed by another steal and feed from Butler to Cleveland, pushing the lead to 27-16 in less than a minute. A block by Ngom resulted in Mills hitting a layup, and a steal lead to Osborne sinking two free throws to close out the first half scoring.
Over the final 10 minutes, FSU went on a 19-3 run, resulting in a halftime score of 32-17. The half ended with FSU (allegedly) and LMU each committing eight fouls. Matthew Cleveland scored seven points and Caleb Mills had six to lead FSU in scoring, while LMU was lead by Eli Scott, with five points.
The second half saw Tanor Ngom turn an ankle in the first minute, walking off on his own after a brief time on the floor. After trading ugly offensive possessions, Evans, Mills, and Osborne drilled back-to-back-back threes to make it 41-19 FSU, forcing LMU into a timeout to stop the bleeding. Following a poor lob attempt by Mills, LMU notched a three pointer but Polite answered with one of his own on the next possession. Osborne sunk another three pointer following a nice defensive stand, giving the Seminoles a 47-22 advantage with 15:18 remaining. After a media timeout, Evans threw a gorgeous lob to Butler on a scripted play. LMU’s Joe Quintana notched a three pointer, then Wilkes fed Cleveland inside for a contested floater, to be followed by another two LMU three balls by Quintana. FSU took a timeout with 13:09 remaining and a 51-31 lead. Cleveland found space for a baseline jumper, then Butler swatted a LMU layup attempt. A poor pass by Warley was intercepted and LMU capitalized with a dunk, but Ngom answered with another hook shot to push the score to 55-33 with 11:59 left. The Seminoles got extremely sloppy over the next minute, giving away several turnovers and fouls once LMU started its full-court press, leading to Evans and Polite replacing the younger Warley and Cleveland. Hamilton took a timeout with the ‘Noles ahead, 55-39, with 10:56 remaining. Mills found Ngom all alone under the hoop for a slam, and after a LMU layup, Ngom put in another close-range bucket to push the FSU lead to 59-41 with just over nine minutes remaining.
Following a LMU bucket, Mills found Polite for a sweet alley-oop jam. Warley later drove in and fished to McLeod for a slam to give FSU a 63-43 advantage with just under six minutes remaining. Quincy Ballard snagged an offensive rebound and found Cleveland for a floater with 4:21 left. A triple by Butler pushed the lead to 68-45 FSU with 3:10 remaining. Shortly thereafter, Hamilton began substituting the end of the bench. A bucket by Harrison Prieto, followed by a gorgeous block by Butler and subsequent foul on LMU, allowed Prieto to knock down a free throw to push the lead to 71-45 FSU with 1:15 left. A Prieto putback closed out the scoring, with FSU notching a 73-45 victory over LMU.
Matthew Cleveland: 13 points on 6-8 shooting.
Malik Osborne: 10 points on 2-4 shooting, 3 rebounds, 2 assists
Tanor Ngom: 10 points on 5-6 shooting, 4 rebounds.
Caleb Mills: 9 points on 4-10 shooting, 3 rebounds, 3 assists.
Anthony Polite: 6 points on 2-6 shooting, 7 rebounds, 4 assists.
Up Next: FSU will spend the night in Jacksonville and take on the winner of Missouri/SMU at 8:30 pm EST tomorrow in a battle for the Jacksonville Classic championship crown.