SUNRISE, Fla. (Seminoles.com) – The “Boom Squad” continued its march through the 2018-19 season on Saturday afternoon. This time, graduate transfer guard David Nichols led the reserve unit.
Nichols led all scorers with 19 points, knocking down seven of 11 shots from the floor and four of seven shots from beyond the 3-point arc in 25 minutes—all career-highs in the garnet and gold. The bench combined for 43 points, their fourth in a row of 40 or more points, in an 81-59 victory over Saint Louis in the Metro by T-Mobile Orange Bowl Classic in Sunrise, Fla.
The Seminoles improved to 11-1 on the year, earning their season-best sixth consecutive victory. They improved their record in the Orange Bowl Classic to 8-2; winning eight of their last nine in the event.
Florida State jumped out of the gates by outscoring Saint Louis (8-4), 18-5. The Seminoles forced five turnovers and held the Billikens without a field goal in seven of the first nine minutes of action, continuing coach Leonard Hamilton’s “Junkyard Defense” tradition.
The Seminoles held Saint Louis to 30.2 percent from the floor and 21.4 percent from three, while forcing 18 turnovers. FSU has now forced at least 18 turnovers in eight games this season, including four of its last five games. The Billikens’ 30.2-percent field goal percentage marked the third time the Noles have held their opponent under 40-perecent this season.
Senior forward Terance Mann, who has transitioned from ‘Boom Squad’ energizer to one of the Noles’ most lethal weapons, led all starters with 17 points and seven rebounds on six of nine shooting.
Mann came out displaying a full arsenal of moves, scoring 11 of the Noles’ first 16 points, outscoring the Billikens 11-4. Mann hit a corner three-point shot with 18:52 left in the first half to earn the games first points, drove down the middle for a thunderous dunk, hit four free throw attempts and scored on a layup during the run.
With 9:13 left in the first half, redshirt freshman Anthony Polite stripped a driving Billiken and fend senior PJ Savoy with a full court pass for an authoritative dunk and a 22-7 lead.
Savoy finished with eight points on two of three from three; his two 3-pointers moving him to 19th all-time in FSU history.
With 8:33 left in the first, junior guard Trent Forrest hit one of 10 FSU three pointers on the day, extending the Seminoles lead to 25-8.
Forrest yet again provided an all-around performance for the Noles, finishing with 10 points, five rebounds, five assists and three steals.
Leading 40-25 at the break, the Seminoles used an efficient offense to carry their momentum into the second half, connecting on six of their first nine shots.
Starting with a driving layup by Forrest and a jump shot by Nichols, the Noles were sparked by redshirt sophomore Mfiondu Kabengele’s thunderous dunk off the fast break for a 48-30 lead with 16:42 remaining. Freshman Devin Vassell followed with with a laup off a steal by Forrest.
Though hampered by foul trouble throughout, Kabengele finished with eight points and seven rebounds in 11 minutes of action. Vassell contributed four points, a block and a steal on two of four shooting.
Six FSU reserves scored and logged at least 10 minutes of playing time on the day.
With 10:11 left to play, redshirt senior Phil Cofer hit his first 3-point shot on the season, extending the lead to 63-39.
In just his second game back from an injury that forced him to miss the first nine games, Cofer finished with a season-high seven points in 18 minutes of action.
Back-to-back dunks by man over the final 30 seconds accounted for the 81-59 final score.
The Noles shot 55.4-percent from the floor and 55.6-percent from beyond the arc, both season-high numbers By making 81.8 percent of its free throws, FSU has shot at least 80-percent from the line five times this season.
Florida State will return from the holiday break with New Year’s Day showdown against Winthrop at the Donald L. Tucker Center. Tip-off is at 2:30 p.m. and tickets are available at Seminoles.com.