Florida State shot lights out all game long pulling away
in the second half with intensified defense to defeat the Maryland Terrapins 96-79.
In producing its highest point total of the season so far, FSU shot 62% from the floor, 8-17 (47%) from behind the arc, and was 14 of 16 from the free throw line.
It was a shooting exhibition lead by Al Thornton’s 27 points that had Maryland’s Gary Williams visibly upset at his team’s defensive effort during a timeout.
Williams said in his Monday ACC press conference that Thornton was a player that could beat you in many ways.
Thornton gave Williams a close up look at that ability with an array of mid-range jump shots, three pointers, layups, and slam dunks. It didn’t matter who the Terps head coach put on him, the All American candidate faced up, dribbled past, or posted up his Terrapins almost at will.
The Seminoles also put three other players in double figures.
Jason Rich reached a new career high with 24 points missing just two of his twelve shots. Toney Douglas took over at the end scoring 9 of his 16 in the last 5:11. Isaiah Swann added 15.
“I thought the guys came out extremely focused and ready to play,” Leonard Hamilton said afterwards. “They rose to the occasion.”
Hamilton complimented his entire squad’s efforts making mention that “everyone who played contributed.”
Indeed it was a team effort as FSU was able to do just about anything it wanted on offense and controlled the boards, something the ‘Noles have not been able to say often this season. The Seminoles dominated the rebounding 33 to 19 including 12 offensive boards.
Hamilton joked later that shooting 62% doesn’t leave much opportunity for many rebounds, however.
Maryland had two leads in the game, both in the first half. The first was 2-0. The second James Gist’s shot from just inside the arc from the left corner giving the Terps a 25-24 advantage.
That caused an irritated Hamilton to call timeout to give his team an earful about their defense.
While the defense didn’t exactly shut down Maryland, FSU’s offense was unstoppable with Thornton’s turnaround fade away jumper giving the lead right back.
Douglas’ runner with six seconds left gave the ‘Noles a 49-46 margin at the half.
The highlight play of the half was a 2 on 1 break with Rich passing to Douglas who passed back to Rich completely turning the defender around, giving Rich the easy layup.
FSU took control early in the second half with a 12-2 run. Thornton and Rich attacked the rim and Swann added the rare four point play as he made a three when fouled by DJ Strawberry. It was the second four point play of the game for Swann.
Thornton’s drive and hop to the basket on a 3 on 2 break during the run brought cheers from the 8,894 in attendance and even more looks from the NBA scouts in attendance.
Just to make his case stronger for being a high draft pick, Thornton knocked the ball away and went the distance for the slam dunk giving FSU a 70-53 lead.
The ‘Noles experienced a brief cold streak for almost three minutes while Maryland pulled to within nine points, 79-70. A left handed layup by Thornton ended that run and for that matter any realistic chance for the Terrapins to pull out the game.
Gist led the Terps with 23 points with Greivis Vasquez adding 13 and Ekene Ibewke scoring 10.
While the Seminoles gave up those points to the Terrapin post players the key for FSU was holding leading scorers Strawberry and Mike Jones to a combined 16 points, showing that not all was bad with the ‘Nole defense.
Next up for FSU is Duke on Sunday at Cameron Indoor where the ‘Noles have never won. Tip off is at 2:00 PM.