PITTSBURGH. Pa. (Seminoles.com) – It was an easy explanation, probably even a fair one, but Leonard Hamilton wouldn’t take it.
A few moments after No. 11 Florida State’s 75-62 loss at Pittsburgh went final, a reporter asked Hamilton if the Seminoles were suffering from any “residue” left over from a last-second loss to No. 1 Duke on Saturday.
It would make sense. FSU, after all, took the country’s top-ranked team down to the wire, only to lose in heartbreaking fashion, and, in a little more than 48 hours, had to play another ACC game more than 1,000 miles away from Tallahassee.
Hamilton, though, didn’t see it that way.
“As a coach, you don’t ever want to accept that,” he said. “That was an emotional loss for us, but that’s part of what you have to prepare yourself for in the ACC.
“There’s no doubt that we were extremely disappointed. But Pitt lost a game Saturday, too. They bounced back, and we didn’t.”
WATCH: Leonard Hamilton discusses FSU’s 75-62 defeat at Pittsburgh
The Panthers (12-5, 2-2 ACC) bounced back at FSU’s expense thanks in large part to two factors: A heavy discrepancy at the free-throw line, and some 3-point shooting from FSU that bordered on historically cold.
Officials whistled the Seminoles (13-4, 1-3) for 31 fouls and granted Pitt 46 free throws – the most of any FSU opponent this season.
The Panthers, who came into the game shooting 71.4 percent from the free-throw line, made 82.6 percent (38 of 46) on Monday and had more than half of their total scoring output come from the charity stripe.
Ten of the 11 Seminoles to play on Monday picked up at least one foul, and two – Mfiondu Kabengele and Terance Mann – fouled out.
“I thought the referees were correct,” Hamilton said. “We did put our bodies and hands on them quite a bit. They forced us into that situation, and we gave them a lot of fouls …
“They did a very good job of driving the lane and executing a maneuver, throwing their bodies into the guy who was defending them.”
The Seminoles, meanwhile, were around their season average at the free-throw line (20-27, 74.1 percent) but struggled just about everywhere else.
With seemingly half the roster in foul trouble and whistles blowing every few seconds, the Seminoles spent the night struggling to find any semblance of offensive rhythm.
And although they finished the night about even with the Panthers from the field, the Seminoles made just two of 22 3-point attempts, a stretch that included a startling 20 consecutive misfires from distance.
After shooting 50 percent in the first half and trailing by just two at the break, the Seminoles made only eight of 34 shot attempts over the final 20 minutes as Pitt’s lead ballooned to as many as 14 points.
“When the game is going like that, when every possession is a stopped ball, it’s hard to get in a rhythm,” Mann said. “I just think we went away from what we normally do, and that kind of hurt us.”
Perhaps the most painful miss came late in the second half, when senior Phil Cofer put up a corner 3 as the Seminoles were in the midst of a last-ditch rally.
Had the shot fallen, Florida State would have trailed by just two points with a little more than three minutes to play.
Instead, it rimmed out, the Panthers grabbed the rebound and then got down the floor quickly for the first points of a 7-2 run that put FSU’s deficit back to double-digits.
“We knew we had another push, another fight and we made it,” senior Terance Mann said. “It just didn’t fall.”
Otherwise, a glance at the box score suggests that the Seminoles might have done enough to earn a road victory.
The Seminoles made more field goals than Pitt, grabbed more rebounds, had more points in the paint and got more points from their bench.
But 46 Pitt free throws and a 9.1-percent clip from 3-point range were too much to overcome.
Trent Forrest led FSU with 19 points and nine rebounds, while Christ Koumadje matched career highs in both rebounds (11) and blocks (five).
Pitt’s Trey McGowan scored a game-high 30 points, 18 of which came at the free-throw line.
“If you had told us that we’d hold a team to 34 percent shooting and 29 percent from 3, that you’d lose – but that’s life in the ACC,” Hamilton said. “I thought Pitt did a great job of maintaining their composure, sticking with their game plan all night.”
Off to a 1-3 start in ACC play for the second consecutive season, the Seminoles will have their composure tested when they visit Boston College on Sunday (noon, ESPNU).
With so many players who have been in this spot before, Florida State will be hoping that history repeats itself – but not too much.
Last year’s Seminoles rallied from that 1-3 start to finish 9-9 in the league and make a run to the NCAA tournament’s Elite Eight.
They also dropped an 81-75 game at BC’s Conte Forum in mid-January.
“We’ll regroup,” Hamilton said. “We’re a pretty good basketball team, and we’ll go back and regenerate our enthusiasm and we’ll correct the mistakes we made tonight.”