WINSTON SALEM, N.C. (Seminoles.com) – The No. 14 Florida State Seminoles closed out one of the most successful regular seasons in school history on Saturday, defeating the Wake Forest Demon Deacons 65-57 in Winston Salem, N.C.
The Seminoles (25-6, 13-5) continued to break school records, winning their school-record 13th ACC game after setting the school record earlier in the season for consecutive ACC victories (eight). The Noles also swept each of their three home-and-home opponents, marking the first time they had beaten three ACC teams twice in the regular season since 2010-11.
Florida State used a balanced scoring attack to chip away at the Demon Deacons (11-19, 4-14 ACC). Led by junior guard Trent Forrest, whose 11 points marked the only individual in double figures, all 11 Seminoles who earned playing time scored and six different Noles scored at least five points.
On par with their balanced scoring outburst, the Seminoles turned in one of their best defensive performances of the season. Florida State limited Wake Forest to 26.2 percent from the floor – the lowest for an FSU opponent this season – while also holding the Demon Deacons to 17.6 percent from 3-point range.
The Seminoles continued to show their resilient attitude after beginning Saturday’s contest with a rocky start. Wake Forest blitzed Florida State from the tip, beginning the game on a 14-2 run in the first seven minutes.
After starting the game scoring two points in the first seven minutes and shooting 1-7 from the floor, Florida State turned to its “18-strong” bench to spark its offense.
In a span of nearly five minutes, Florida State’s bench scored all 11 points after it took its starters out, outscoring the Demon Deacons 11-6 during that time span.
With 8:45 left in the first half, senior center Christ Koumadje took over the game for the Seminoles, scoring the team’s next six points.
Koumadje began his personal run by slamming home a and drawing a foul as well. He would follow up that a few possessions later, dunking home a lob from senior Terance Mann.
On the next possession, Koumadje hit a jump shot to cut Wake Forest’s lead to one.
Koumadje finished off his final ACC regular season game on a dominant note. The N’Djamena, Chad, native finished the contest with eight points, 10 rebounds and three blocked shots.
After earning his first career double double against the Demon Deacons just a few weeks ago, Koumadje averaged 14.0 points, 11.0 rebounds and 2.5 blocks while shooting 70 percent from the field.
Trailing 31-24 at the end of the half, Florida State relied upon a second-half scoring outburst of 41 points on 53.6 percent shooting to compete its rally.
The Seminoles turned to redshirt senior Phil Cofer, who jumpstarted the offense out of the break. Cofer hit a jump shot to give Florida State its first points of the half, and followed with a put back layup on the next possession.
Trailing 34-29 with 16:43 left in the second half, Florida State continued to chip away. After Trent Forrest connected on two free throws, M.J. Walker hit a 3-point shot off of a Forrest assist to cut the Wake Forest lead to 34-33.
Walker provided the Seminoles a much-needed boost on both ends of the floor. The sophomore finished with six points, four rebounds and two steals, while hitting two 3-point shots. Both his steals and 3-pointers came in the second half.
With 14:01 left in regulation and trailing 39-33, Forrest connected on his fifth 3-point shot on the season, hitting a wing 3 in transition to cut the score to a three-point Wake Forest advantage.
Forrest finished with a team-high 11 points, a team-high five assists and four rebounds, while also connecting on his first 3-pointer since January 20 at Boston College.
Trailing 45-40 with 10:09 left in regulation, Florida State went on one of its most dominant stretches of basketball throughout the regular season, going on an 18-0 run that lasted the next 5:24 of game time.
After a jump shot by Forrest with 10:09 left to play to jumpstart the run, senior forward PJ Savoy hit a wing 3-point shot off of a Forrest assist to tie the game at 45-45.
A few possessions later, Forrest hit a floater to give the Seminoles their first lead of the game at 47-45 with 7:34 left in regulation.
Leading 52-45 with 5:10 left to play, Terance Mann hit an and-one layup. After the free throw hit off the front of the rim, Mann collected his offensive rebound and hit a lay-up, giving him an unconventional four-point play and extending the Seminoles lead to 56-45.
On the next possession, Mann would drive to the rim and hit two free throws, capping off a personal 6-0 run and giving the Seminoles a 58-45 advantage with 4:51 remaining.
As he has done throughout his four-year career, Mann continued to stuff the stat sheet against Wake Forest. The senior finished with eight points, seven rebounds, two assists and a steal on 3-of-6 shooting from the floor.
After Wake Forest cut the lead to 58-48, Florida State responded with a Kabengele lay-up, and Cofer free throw and dunk, bringing the lead to 63-48 with 2:31 remaining.
With the game all but decided, Wake Forest would score the next six, but Florida State hung on, 65-57, as the clock ran out.
After winning its school-record 13th ACC victory, Florida State turns to Charlotte, North Carolina, where it will look to continue it’s momentum in the ACC tournament after winning 12 of its last 13 games.
After its victory over Virginia Tech on Tuesday night in Tallahassee, Florida State has clinched the No. 4 seed in the ACC tournament and will not play until Thursday.