Dec. 2, 2012
By: Brandon Mellor (@BrandonMellor), Seminoles.com Managing Editor
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — On a day that saw 49 combined free throws, none were more important than the final six in Florida State’s 61-56 home loss to Mercer.
Trailing since the 5:32 mark of the second half, the Seminoles (4-3) had a chance to tie the game at 57 apiece with 33 seconds left but Terrance Shannon made just one of two attempts and the Bears (4-4) answered by hitting all four of their freebies in the final 23 seconds to pull off the upset.
For the ‘Noles, the setback marked the second consecutive loss at home and the third overall on the season. It also marked Florida State’s first loss to Mercer since 1954.
But free-throw woes weren’t the only culprit at the Donald L. Tucker Center Saturday. While FSU did only shoot 61 percent from the line, the Seminoles also shot just 35 percent overall and 35 percent from 3-point range.
As FSU continues to battle through the growing pains that come with replacing six proven players that helped capture the program’s first conference title a year ago with six newcomers, the Seminoles struggled to establish much balance against the Bears.
“We find that energy, that intensity, that junkyard-dog mentality that has been the characteristic of our team the last several years seems to be missing from this team,” FSU coach Leonard Hamilton said.
Okaro White was the lone player to score in double figures as he registered 14 points on 4-of-7 shooting and grabbed a team-best six rebounds.
But star shooting guard Michael Snaer was held to just six shots and finished with seven points while Ian Miller had five points and Shannon added seven. White, Snaer and Shannon each battled with foul trouble through much of the afternoon as well.
“There’s no reason we should be losing to Mercer at home,” Snaer said. “We don’t want to do that.”
Travis Smith paced Mercer with 13 points, including two of the critical, game-sealing free throws at the end of the game. Langston Hall added the other two free throws and the Bears left Tallahassee with a 82.6-percent shooting clip from the line.
The ‘Noles held Mecer to just 37 percent shooting from the field and from long range and both teams finished with 30 rebounds each.
The Seminoles have to quickly regroup because the biggest challenge of the young 2012-13 season is up next. FSU hosts rival Florida Wednesday night at the Donald L. Tucker Center at 7 p.m. in a game that will air live on ESPNU.
“That’s a challenge for us to right the ship before they come to town,” Hamilton said. “Whether we can correct everything, probably not. But I just think if we play up to our potential and the execution of our defensive and offensive schemes and if we can be consistent with that than we’ll take what happens after that.”