NC State falls at Florida State, 71-67

jgiglio@newsobserver.comMarch 9, 2013 

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N.C. State's Lorenzo Brown, top, and Florida State's Michael Ojo go after a loose ball during the game on Saturday, March 9, 2013 at the Donald L. Tucker Leon County Civic Center in Florida. FSU won the game 71-67.

GLENN BEIL — Tallahassee Democrat

Florida State handed N.C. State a ticket for a bye in the ACC tournament and then took it away.

Freshman guard Devon Bookert scored eight of his 18 points in the final 3 minutes to carry Florida State to a 71-67 home win over the Wolfpack on Saturday afternoon in Tallahassee, Fla.

N.C. State (22-9, 11-7 ACC) only needed a win to clinch a spot in the quarterfinals of the ACC tournament and avoid having to play on Thursday. The Wolfpack beat FSU by 18 points in Raleigh on Feb. 19 and led by as many as eight points in the second half on Saturday.

It was FSU’s home win over Virginia this past Thursday which put the Wolfpack in control of its ACC tournament seed. After Saturday’s loss, the Wolfpack is back to being a helpless spectator.

If Virginia, 10-7 in the ACC, beats Maryland (8-9 ACC) at home on Sunday, the Cavaliers will be the No. 4 seed and N.C. State will be the No. 5 seed. If Maryland beats Virginia, which is 8-0 at home in ACC play, N.C. State will get Thursday’s play-in round off.

Virginia, by virtue of its 58-55 home win over N.C. State on Jan. 29, owns the tiebreaker over the Wolfpack.

“We’re probably going to have to play on Thursday,” a dejected Mark Gottfried said in his post-game radio interview. “We get that.”

As the No. 5 seed, N.C. State would play the No. 12 seed in the 2:30 p.m. game on Thursday in Greensboro. The loser of Sunday’s game between Wake Forest and Virginia Tech in Winston-Salem will be the No. 12 seed.

No team has won four games in four days at the ACC tournament.

“We’ve got to be ready to play and we’ve got to be ready to play well,” Gottfried said. “And we’ve got to go to Greensboro with the mindset that we’re going to win the tournament.”

N.C. State, which had won six of its previous seven games, had multiple chances in the final two minutes to escape from Tallahassee with a win and secure the bye but couldn’t. Junior forward C.J. Leslie, who spent most of the game in foul trouble, turned the ball over twice in the final 63 seconds with the Wolfpack trailing 65-63.

Leslie, who finished with five points in 18 minutes, also went 1-for-4 from the free-throw line in the final minutes.

Leslie traveled with 1:03 left in the game and then lost the ball out of bounds off a pass from Lorenzo Brown with 34.6 seconds left.

After Leslie’s second turnover, FSU guard Michael Snaer broke loose on the fullcourt inbounds play for a dunk and a 67-63 lead with 33.1 seconds left.

Senior forward Richard Howell gave the Wolfpack one last hope with a three-point play with 21.4 seconds left to cut FSU’s lead to 67-66 but Aaron Thomas made one of his free throws and Okaro White tipped back the miss on the second free throw to keep the ball in FSU’s possession.

Bookert was fouled with 13.1 seconds left and he iced the game with a pair of free throws.

Both Leslie and Howell picked up their third fouls in the first half, Leslie at the 12:30 mark after a person foul and a technical foul for arguing the call, and Howell at the 5-minute mark.

Then both forwards picked up their fourth fouls in the second half and spent a long stretch on the bench together. The Wolfpack led 49-41 when Howell went to the bench at the 12:20 mark in the second half.

“The foul trouble really hurt them,” Gottfried said. “We just had a lot to overcome and I thought for the most part of the game we did. We put ourselves right there and we just didn’t close it out.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Giglio: 919-829-8938

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