FSU ends skid with stunning 21-point win over Notre Dame
By St. Clair Murraine
The 7,819 fans in the Civic Center weren’t the only ones surprised to see how easily Florida State handled Notre Dame to get its second win over a ranked team.
Irish coach Mike Brey could hardly believe what he was seeing from his 20th-ranked team this past Saturday, as the Seminoles set a break-neck pace early and never let up.
“I give Florida State all the credit in the world,” Brey said, following the Seminoles’ 77-56 victory. “I thought they played fantastic and they shot the heck out of the ball.”
FSU has not had a win so significant since beating Virginia on Jan. 17. Since then, they lost eight of their next 11 games, including five straight before the Irish came to the Civic Center.
But Notre Dame just couldn’t find any answers for the defensive pressure that the Seminoles brought from the outset. The only area that Notre Dame managed to keep it close was on the boards, thanks to Zach Auguste’s 17 rebounds.
They didn’t come easily though. FSU had Boris Bojanovsky constantly in his face, making the post one of the most contested.
Bojanovsky finished what was one of his most impressive efforts with nine rebounds, eight points and six block shots.
“He got two buckets at the beginning of the game,” Bojanovsky said of the matchup with Auguste. “But after that I was just trying to slow him down; stay in front of him.”
Bojanovsky brought the crowd to its feet when he turned a block Auguste’s jumper and took the defensive rebound. He dished the ball off, then hustled down court in time to take the pass inside for a jumper that put FSU on top 66-46 with 7:50 to play.
Notre Dame had taken away one of the Seminoles’ biggest weapons, limiting their transition to the point that they managed just five fast-break points. It didn’t matter, though.
Benji Bell was working on a 14-point night and when he was done he got 12 of them from 3-point range.
“He is very confident,” coach Leonard Hamilton said of Bell. “Our guys believe in him and when he sees that ball go into the basket the first time it gives him confidence. His maturity gave us a big lift tonight.”
With the exception of a 7-1 run early in the first half that cut FSU’s lead to one, Notre Dame didn’t have any more sustained answers. Bell came off the bench and scored two straight field goals for five points and just like that FSU had an eight-point lead, 25-17.
By halftime, the Seminoles were on top by 16. Their offense never stopped clicking and defensively FSU held the Irish to 29.6 percent shooting in the second half.
“We had to execute from the half court and I thought our guys were very patient,” Hamilton said. “They moved the ball and made good shot selection.”