CLEMSON, S.C. (seminoles.com) – Florida State’s effort and intensity were there, as were a handful of key plays in crucial moments.
None of that, however, was enough to overcome an inspired Clemson team, in the midst of its best season in years, playing in front of a raucous crowd in its home finale.
Phil Cofer scored 21 points and the Seminoles held a lead midway through the second half, but Clemson later seized control and cruised down the stretch to a 76-63 victory on Senior Night at Littlejohn Coliseum.
Clemson’s Marcquise Reed did the most significant damage by scoring 22 points, nine of which came in the final 4:25,
That allowed the Tigers to turn what had been a close game – the Seminoles trailed by just three with 2:58 to play – into a more comfortable final score.
Florida State (19-10, 8-9 ACC) will close out the regular season Saturday at home against Boston College (2 p.m., ACC Network) in a game that will have major implications for the Seminoles’ seeding in next week’s ACC tournament, as well as their hopes for a second straight NCAA tournament bid.
“I thought the difference was they gave the ball to Reed in critical parts when they had to have a basket, and he overpowered us,” FSU coach Leonard Hamilton said. “He had three baskets in a row and kind of kept us from getting any momentum at all.”
After weathering an early storm, Florida State seemed to have plenty of momentum in the first half. Thanks to a welcome breakout from Braian Angola, the Seminoles rallied from a quick seven-point deficit with a 10-0 run and held a 24-16 lead midway through the period.
Angola, who had gone four games without making a 3-pointer, drained a deep triple on his first attempt of the night and went on to finish 3 of 4 from distance and with 11 points.
“It was nice hitting a couple shots,” Angola said. “The ball wasn’t going in lately, but (after) hitting those shots, it’s comforting to me to know that I still have it.”
Clemson (22-7, 11-6), though, battled through a tight defensive effort from FSU and, after making a late 3-pointer, held a 35-32 halftime lead despite shooting 38.7 percent from the field.
“I think our defensive execution was pretty good,” Cofer said. “They hit some tough shots. We had some wide-open shots too, but they just weren’t falling for us.”
Most critically in the second half, when FSU stayed at arm’s length but never managed to completely close its gap.
The Seminoles shot 10 of 27 in the final 20 minutes, and although they finished with a better overall shooting percentage than the Tigers (42-40 percent), they also suffered some high-profile misses.
After Cofer hit a 3-pointer to FSU’s deficit to 64-61, the Seminoles misfired on four of their next five shot attempts to end the game.
Not helping matters were some untimely free-throw troubles. FSU finished 12 of 19 at the line, but only 7 of 12 in the second half, a stretch punctuated by three straight misses from Terance Mann – he gained a third attempt after a line violation.
It was part of a forgettable evening for FSU’s most experienced playmaker, who finished with three points on 1 of 9 shooting.
“I just thought he had one of those nights that every player in America will have,” Hamilton said. “Unfortunately, we’ve had a couple of them, back to back.
“Maybe it’s a good sign that we’re getting all of them out of the way.”
Clemson, meanwhile, took advantage of FSU’s dry spell with a 12-2 run over the final two-plus minutes to provide the final margin.
That stretch also coincided with the departure of freshman Ike Obiagu, who had one of the better games of his young career with five blocks and two rebounds.
“They made the shots that we gave them and I thought we missed some really, really good opportunities,” Hamilton said.
“And there lies a loss to a really good basketball team.”