TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Given the circumstances, Leonard Hamilton could not have asked for a better scenario at the end of Sunday’s game against No. 10 Miami.
With FSU down by one and 47 seconds to go, freshman star Dwayne Bacon took the ball down the floor looking to perhaps add to his collection of game-winning shots.
But Bacon, who hit winners against Florida and NC State earlier this year, never got the chance. After crossing half-court, Bacon passed to sophomore guard Xavier Rathan-Mayes, who then lost control and kicked the ball while dribbling to his left.
Senior guard Devon Bookert corralled it, but with the clock winding down, he threw up a desperate 3-pointer that missed long.
Then, after a Miami free throw, Malik Beasley’s running 30-footer went wide to seal a 67-65 defeat.
FSU fell to 16-9, 6-7 in the ACC while the Hurricanes improved to 20-4, 9-3.
“As the game was winding down, we felt that we could not have been in a better position, down one with a guy who’s won two games with us with the ball in his hands,” Hamilton said. “Unfortunately, it didn’t turn out the way we wanted it.”
Hamilton said he would’ve liked for Bacon to have kept the ball and attempted the shot, and that he felt Bacon might have been a little too crowded on the floor.
As for the two timeouts left in his pocket, Hamilton said he didn’t want to stop the game just to draw up the same situation – Bacon with the ball for a chance at a game-winner.
“I thought we were very fortunate to be in that position,” he said.
Indeed, the Seminoles never led after midway point of the first half, but rallied from a double-digit deficit in the second half to stay in range.
And they did it while their two freshmen stars, Bacon and Beasley, struggled through the toughest combined outing of their careers.
Bacon scored nine and Beasley just six for their lowest combined output of the season. Beasley had scored in double-figures of every game this season and Bacon had done it in every game of ACC play.
Beasley finished just 2 of 10 from the field.
“Beasley is normally a lights out shooter and he’s great in the open court,” Miami coach Jim Larranaga said. “We actually took away some of their fast breaks by fouling them, which then may have been a good strategy. I’ll have to go back and look at that.
“They’re so good in the open court, you can’t give those guys a chance to get layups or dunks because that gets them going. Our guys did a great job on both of the freshmen.”
Bookert finished with 14 points to lead FSU in scoring for the second straight game. Rathan-Mayes added 12 but no other Seminole reached double figures.
Meanwhile senior center Boris Bojanovsky had one of his better games of the year with eight points, five rebounds and five blocks.
He was so effective down low that Larranaga eventually adjusted Miami’s offensive game plan to draw him out of the paint.
“When we went to the basket, Bojanovsky just blocked everything,” he said.
Then again, FSU had its own struggles near the basket.
Playing primarily with a four-guard lineup, the Seminoles actually outscored Miami in the paint, 26-22, but only drew nine free-throw attempts.
And they made only four of those attempts to finish below 50 percent from the line for the second straight game.
Miami made 16 of its 22 attempts.
“I was very concerned that we couldn’t get to the free-throw line,” Hamilton said. “I thought we kept driving, trying to take the ball inside. I look down and see they went to the line 22 times and we went nine. It’s obvious that we need to be a little more aggressive taking the ball to the basket.
“That looks like it probably made the difference in the game, our inability to get to the free throw line and hit our free throws.”
Up next for the Seminoles is a home date with Georgia Tech on Wednesday at 9 p.m.
The Yellow Jackets have lost seven of their last nine games.
“Nobody understands how hurt we are. Everybody in the locker room is hurt,” Bojanovsky said. “But it’s either going to break us or make us, this loss. We’ve got to keep going from here.”