TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (seminoles.com) — Redshirt junior Anthony Polite led Florida State with a career-high 15 points and a career-high nine rebounds as the No. 21 Seminoles pulled away from Gardner-Webb in the second half to take a 72-59 victory at the Donald L. Tucker Center. The win closed out the Seminoles’ non-conference schedule with four wins in five games and sets up a date at Clemson on December 29.
Florida State improved to 5-1 while the Runnin’ Bulldogs fell to 1-5. The game was originally scheduled as the Seminoles’ opener on November 27 but postponed and played as the Seminoles last game before beginning a stretch of 19 consecutive ACC games beginning with the Tigers
Florida State moved to 5-1 on the season and Gardner-Webb moved to 1-4.
The two teams traded the lead in the first half before the Seminoles took control of the game and closed the game on an 18-6 run to take their victory. The Seminoles pushed their lead to double digits before winning by 13.
The Seminoles and the Runnin’-Bullsogs played a back-and-forth first half which saw five ties and six lead changes. The Seminoles led by as many as five (31-26 with 44 seconds remaining) while Gardner-Webb led by as many as six (12-6 with 11:36 remaining). The Seminoles scored five of the final nine points of the first half to take a 31-28 halftime lead.
Florida State took the lead for good on a 3-point field goal by M.J. Walker with 16:13 left to play in the second half. Walker’s bucket gave the Seminoles a 42-39 lead – a lead they steadily increased from there. Walker finished the game with seven points, two rebounds and two steals.
Walker remained consistent from the free throw line, making two of two in the victory. He is now shooting .921 from the line in the first six games of the season.
Sophomore Balsa Koprivica, who scored the first basket of both halves for the Seminoles, scored his season-high of 14 points and had eight rebounds. His performance marks his fourth game he has scored in double figures. Koprivica was also perfect from the free throw line, making all six of his attempts.
Redshirt junior RaiQuan Gray scored four points while adding eight rebounds and two assists to help the Seminoles gain the victory.
Freshman Scottie Barnes led the team in assists with five while adding six points to the board. He has 25 assists, an average of 4.17 assists in the first six games of his career. Barnes tied with Polite for the team-high in steals with two. Barnes’ two steals marked the fifth consecutive game that he has had at least one steal and brought his season total to 10 steals.
The Seminoles outrebounded the Runnin’ Bulldogs 53-30 and shot .750 percent from the free throw line (24 of 32).
Senior RayQuan Evans totaled eight points and four rebounds. Evans was 2-4 (.500 percent) from the 3-point line. Junior Malik Osborne also played a key role in tonight’s win, totaling eight points and eight rebounds.
Sophomore Lance Terry scored 23 points for Gardner-Webb and went eight of 19 on field goals. Senior Jaheam Cornwall was the team’s second leading scorer with seven points and had a team-high of seven rebounds. The Runnin’ Bulldogs ended the night with a .778 free throw percentage and a 31.0 field goal percentage.
Florida State senior Justin Lindner closed out Florida State’s victory with two points from the field, bringing the Seminoles to their largest lead of the game at 13 points (72-59).