TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Trent Forrest and Braian Angola each did enough down the stretch to lead Florida State to a victory over Boston College.
As a result, the Seminoles have likely done enough to seal a second straight trip to the NCAA tournament.
Forrest had the game of his career – 21 points and 10 rebounds, his first career double-double – and Angola added another 21 as FSU erased a second-half deficit for an 85-76 victory over the Eagles on an emotional Senior Day at the Donald L. Tucker Center.
The Seminoles (20-10, 9-9 ACC) are next off to New York for the ACC tournament, which begins Tuesday at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn. FSU will meet either North Carolina State or Louisville on Wednesday at noon.
“This was an extremely hard-fought game,” FSU coach Leonard Hamilton said. “I thought both teams played with a sense of urgency. At the end of the day, I thought we had some guys play with a lot of connection to each other, offensively and defensively.”
For signs of that, look no further than Forrest and Angola, who combined to score 33 of their 42 points in the second half.
With the Seminoles in the midst of a lengthy rally and the game tied for the first time since midway through the first half, it was Forrest’s defensive rebound, followed by his cross-court assist, that set Angola up for a go-ahead dunk that brought the 9,825 fans in attendance to their feet.
“It really just brought that energy,” Forrest said. “Everybody kind of got up after that. It was a momentum swing for us.”
That might be a bit of an understatement. Angola’s dunk was part of an 18-4 FSU run to close the game, a stretch that began with Boston College leading by five with six minutes to go.
But after trailing by as many as eight in the second half, the Seminoles surged past the Eagles thanks in large part to Angola and Forrest, as well as to another sterling performance from surging freshman Ike Obiagu.
A 7-foot center from Nigeria, Obiagu has emerged as a dominant interior force over the last three games, during which he’s blocked an eye-popping 18 shots.
That includes seven blocks during Saturday’s game, the last of which came as the Seminoles nursed a four-point lead with less than two minutes to play.
Obiagu also added a career-high 12 rebounds and three points while playing his most minutes (21) in nearly three months.
“I’m just having fun out there,” Obiagu said. “The coach trusts me to be out on the floor, so I know ‘I’ve got to do something to keep on earning his trust. I’m just blessed that (blocking shots) is what I do, so I keep on doing it.”
FSU’s second-half run nullified strong efforts from BC’s star trio of Ty Bowman (22 points), Jordan Chatman (20) and Jerome Robinson, which combined for 10 of Boston College’s 12 3-pointers.
The Eagles finished 12 of 28 from 3-point range, while FSU connect on 7 of 25.
“They had moments where I thought we were playing good defense and they still found ways to score baskets,” Hamilton said.
“We knew they’d hit some tough shots,” Forrest added. “We expected that. we just knew that if we cut down on that, we would be in good shape.”
The Seminoles did that and more. When BC’s Ervin Meznieks hit a 3-pointer with 6:13 to go, the Eagles led 72-67 and were shooting better than 47 percent from the field. By the end of the game, that percentage had fallen to 40.0.
FSU also did well to stay steady during a long and unusual endgame sequence that featured multiple official reviews and flagrant foul calls.
But as fans grew restless with the game officials, FSU senior Phil Cofer set everyone home happy with an emphatic dunk – assisted from Forrest – that sealed the win.
“When the game was on the line, with all the chaos that was going on, I thought we maintained our composure,” Hamilton said. “And you have to give trent forrest a lot of credit for that. he kept us composed.”
While the Seminoles’ NCAA tournament resume seems sold – they have 20 wins, a .500 record in the nation’s toughest conference and four wins over ranked opponents – they also insisted that they’re not going to exhale once they get to Brooklyn.
They may feel good about their position, but they’d feel even better with another win or two.
“I feel like we definitely have done enough,” Forrest said with a smile. “But nothing that a little more wouldn’t help.”