November 21, 2022 - by

Men’s Basketball Defeats Mercer, 81-72

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Cam’Ron Fletcher scored a career-high 23 points as the Seminoles gained their first victory of the season against Mercer University at the Donald L. Tucker Center. Matthew Cleveland added 18 points and Naheem McLeod pulled down a career-high nine rebounds and two assists to help Florida State defeat the Bears, 81-72.

Although the Bears came out strong in the starting minutes of the game, Florida State went on a 15-3 scoring run over a seven-minute period. Led by Caleb Mills, with a 3-pointer in the last remaining minutes of the first half, two other Seminoles, Darin Green Jr. and Cam’Ron Fletcher, followed suit and each made one of their own three-pointers to increase Florida State’s biggest lead of the game to 42-26.

In the first half, Florida State shot 15 for 38 (.395) from the field and six for 12 (.500) from the 3-point line.  Fletcher shot a perfect three for three from beyond the arc, as well as leading the Seminoles in field goals made and field goals attempted, shooting six for eight (.750) in the paint.

It was a career-high night for Fletcher. His three 3-point field goals marked a career high for the junior guard, beating his original statistic of two three-pointers against six different teams. Fletcher’s nine made field goals for the night also became a career-high, as he surpassed his seven field goals made against North Carolina in February.

Along with McLeod’s career high nine rebounds and two assists, the sophomore center shot four for six (.667) from the field and added eight points to the final score. Mills totaled 12 points and Jalen Warley eight poinst, as both players helped lead the Seminoles to their first victory of the season.

“Obviously, Naheem gave us a big lift,” said Hamilton, “his energy, blocked five shots, his presence in the lane made a huge difference. I thought the players themselves made some adjustments throughout the game. They were talking more, their ideas, what they wanted to do, they suggested it.”

From the free throw line, Cameron Corhen and Matthew Cleveland shot two-for-two in the first half. Mills shot five for six (.833) in free throws, clutching four-for-four of those free throws in the last minute of the game. As a team, the Seminoles finished with a .720 (18-25) free throw shooting percentage compared to Mercer’s .667 mark (10-15).

“I thought that tonight, our guys played with a little more energy and consistency,” said Hamilton, “I felt like I was trying to figure out what to do with our team, it was like starting all over again. Trying to work with guys who haven’t played very much, aren’t too experienced. I had to say I was pleasantly surprised that they were able to come in and make those contributions.”

Florida State upped their game from the field in the second half, earning a .571 (12-21) shooting percentage, as Mercer struggled in both halves shooting 12 for 34 (.353) in the first half and 14 for 32 (.438) in the second. Matthew Cleveland took command after the intermission, shooting five for six (.833) from the field, one-for-one from beyond the arc, and three-for-four (.750) from the free throw line.

“We realized that we are closer to where we want to be,” said Hamilton, “our guys understand that we need each other. We need to learn how to play to each other. I was glad to see us create shots for each other. They created opportunities for each other. Overall, I think we showed we have some capabilities, but we are still a long way from being as good as I think we can be.”

Florida State will travel to Orlando, FL for the ESPN Events Invitational beginning Thursday, November 24th. The Seminoles tip off against Siena College at 11:00am ET, featured on ESPN2. The pair’s last meeting was in November of 1992 as Florida State defeated the Saints in an 89-80 victory.

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