In a hard fought, physical game the Florida State Seminoles came away with the championship in the Coaches vs Cancer tournament beating a talented St. Joseph's team 73-66.
It was a game where neither team led by more than six points. That is until a brilliantly executed two on one fast break gave the Seminoles a 67-59 lead with 2:44 to play. Montay Brandon wrestled the rebound away and tossed a lengthy pass to an open Ian Miller in front of the Seminole bench. Miller instantly zipped the ball past the lone defender to a streaking Terrance Shannon who laid the ball in.
In a game of back and forth runs, it was the team that made the last run that counted. And in those final 5 minutes of the game an unlikely hero in Shannon was the catalyst for that final push.
It was Shannon's no look pass to Okaro White that opened up a 63-57 working margin at the 4:56 mark. Ninety seconds later Shannon drew the goal tending call to make it 65-59, setting up the two on one breakaway play. Shannon then added an offensive put back to keep it at eight, 69-61.
For a player that admitted after the game that he is there to do the dirty work it was quite a game for the forward as Shannon finished with 15 points (11 in the second half), 10 rebounds (four on the offensive end), and added 4 assists as well before fouling out with just 17 seconds remaining.
An aggressive, attacking Hawks team tried to overtake the 'Noles, but FSU answered the challenge, showing a great deal of poise even for a team loaded with first year players.
That was reflected in the calm manner Devon Bookert (who added more 5 assists to his record) sank two free throws with twenty four seconds left in the game upping the score to 73-64 sealing the win.
Leonard Hamilton said afterward how proud of he was of his team.
"We did the little things to win the game," Hamilton commented. "St. Joe's made runs at us, but we were unselfish and moved the ball better in the second half."
It has been an amazing turnaround from the season opening loss to South Alabama, a loss that Shannon said they were "real down about."
Hamilton explained it by saying, "We were young and inexperienced .... that was a wake up call for us."
"This is a team that is growing."
Leading the way again for FSU was White 16 points. Michael Snaer, who was named the tournament MVP, added 14. Brandon was a perfect 4 of 4 (3 of 3 from the three point line) from the field finishing with 11 points.
Once again the Seminole offense was very effective. While the first half was a little out of sync at times, a smoother second half saw the 'Noles shot 55% for the game.
Florida State was out shot badly at the FT line connecting on just 7-10 attempts compared to the 26 attempts by the Hawks. But St. Joseph's was off, shooting just 61% at the stripe. Perhaps a result of fatigue as St. Joe's was unable to match the depth of the Seminoles.
The Hawks put four players in double figures but shot just 42%.
So Florida State will add a trophy to the display case and take a well deserved day off on Sunday. It will be back to work however on Monday to prepare to host North Florida at 7:00 PM on Wednesday. The game will be shown on ESPN3.
"We're going to take a little time to appreciate this win", Hamilton said. "And use it to improve."
"We need to make sure to take care of business and not have anymore South Alabamas."