Florida State marched into Friday’s game confident after having just won the ACC tournament; a darling on many Final Four brackets. They beat Duke twice this year and they beat UNC twice on way to an impressive 25-9 overall record.
This is a team with high expectations, gobs of talent, and appeared to be getting red hot at just the right time. This No. 3 versus No. 14 matchup against St. Bonaventure is why March Madness is so much fun.
The Bonnies ignored their No. 14 tournament ranking and came into the game with the swagger of a team looking for a Goliath to take down. St. Bonaventure was lead by big man Andrew Nicholson who went for 20 points, 7 rebounds, and 2 blocks. FSU, who are usually masters at preventing big men from camping out in the post had no answer for Nicholson, who was a beast in this game.
After the game the Bonnies had clearly earned the respect of Florida State. “That was one of the toughest games we’ve played all season, and that’s all the credit to their team,” Florida State senior Luke Loucks said. “They came out first swinging, and we really didn’t hit back until about 10 minutes to go in the second half. Again, all the credit to them, we really, really had to fight to win that game.”
Bernard James made all the difference in the world for FSU. He put the Seminoles on his back to the tune of 19 points, 9 rebounds, and 3 blocks. The most critical aspect to James’ performance was the timing of his buckets. Every time FSU looks like their offense had gone off the rails and the game was getting out of hand, James would drop in a bucket to keep FSU in it.
St. Bonaventure lead for most of the game and it look a 16-2 FSU second half run to give the Seminoles their first lead of the game with only 5:15 left to play. The Bonnies weren’t going away easily though and managed to rain in three 3-pointers in the last 1:43 of the game to keep it close. With time expiring on the clock the Bonnies had one final shot to win the game, but Da’Quan Cook couldn’t get free and ended up having his shot blocked as time expired.
The madness has officially begun.
Other scores from the East Region
#11 Texas 59
#6 Cincinnati 65
Photo Credit: ASSOCIATED PRESS