Dec. 21, 2013
SUNRISE, Fla. — Confronted with twin-tower defenders, Massachusetts needed to shoot well from the perimeter Saturday, and couldn’t do it.
The 22nd-ranked Minutemen went 1 for 15 from 3-point range and were beaten for the first time this season when Florida State scored the game’s final six points to win 60-55 in the Orange Bowl Classic.
Florida State had a season-high 12 blocks. Boris Bojanovsky, a 7-foot-3 sophomore, had a career-high seven blocks in 16 minutes. Michael Ojo, a 7-1 sophomore, added two blocks, seven points and eight rebounds in 19 minutes.
“To beat them, you’re going to have to make some 3s,” UMass coach Derek Kellogg said. “I’m not sure I’ve seen a team shoot 1 for 15 from 3 and win. I’m not sure that’s possible.”
Florida State (8-3) beat a ranked team for the second time this season. UMass (10-1) had been off to its best start since 1995.
“We know how it feels to lose a game now,” said UMass’ Cady Lalanne, a junior who scored 10 points and tied a career high with 15 rebounds. “It’s motivation.”
Aaron Thomas scored 18 points for Florida State and was voted the game’s most valuable player. His two free throws with 2 seconds left sealed the victory.
“It was one of those grind-out games that you hope you pull out at the end,” Seminoles coach Leonard Hamilton said. “We just never seemed to get into a rhythm, but at the end we did a better job of executing and made enough plays.”
Bojanovsky had three blocks down the stretch.
“I tried to go after every shot,” he said. “I’m glad I helped my team to win.”
Chaz Williams’ driving layup put the Minutemen up 55-54 with 1:51 to go, but they failed to score on their final four possessions while committing two turnovers, including one when Lalanne was called for hanging on the rim on a dunk.
Two free throws by Ian Miller with 1:06 left gave the Seminoles the lead for good.
The Minutemen shot a season-low 33 percent, and their starters were 0 for 12 from 3-point range. Their point total was a season low, 29 below their average.
“We missed layups, open shots and free throws,” Kellogg said. “I remember 14 or 16 layups we missed. That’s attributable to Florida State’s size.”
Derrick Gordon had 12 points for UMass, and Williams scored 10.
Florida State had season lows in points and shooting, hitting just 37 percent. The Seminoles, who went 1 for 7 from 3-point range, were coming off their highest scoring game since 2005, scoring 106 points in a win over Charlotte.
Players on both teams said the rims were unforgiving.
“In warmups we were complaining about the rims,” Thomas said. “We weren’t happy with them. They weren’t breakaways. We weren’t able to get a shooter’s roll.”
Neither team led by more than five points, and the lead changed hands 13 times as both teams struggled offensively from the start. The Seminoles missed 16 of their first 19 shots, while UMass missed its first eight 3-point tries.
“We both defended each other,” Hamilton said. “They did a lot of things that threw us out of rhythm. They’re the most athletic team we’ve faced all year.”
Montay Brandon had eight points and nine rebounds for Florida State.
UMass scored nine consecutive points to lead 11-6. The Seminoles were up 30-28 at halftime, then trailed for most of the second half before Miller put them ahead to stay.
“We needed this victory going into the Christmas break,” Hamilton said. “Santa Claus came early.”
Florida State wore turquoise uniforms to raise awareness for Native American and Aboriginal youth.