This year’s NCAA tournament had largely been devoid of stunning upsets and unlikely stars, but on Friday afternoon St. Bonaventure appeared to be on the verge delivering both.
But after leading for more than 33 minutes, the 14th-seeded Bonnies couldn’t convert when it counted most and fell to No. 3 seed Florida State, 66-63, in an East Region round-of-64 game in Nashville.
St. Bonaventure had a chance to tie the score on its final possession, but forward Da’quan Cook missed two shots and Florida State escaped with a narrow victory. The Seminoles played from behind until forward Bernard James slammed home a missed lay-in by teammate Luke Loucks with 6:57 remaining in the game. Guard Ian Miller then gave Florida State the lead for good on a three-pointer less than two minutes later.
James paced the Seminoles with 19 points and nine rebounds, outdueling St. Bonaventure star Andrew Nicholson down the stretch. The Bonnies’ 6-foot-9 NBA prospect scored a team-high 20 points and grabbed seven rebounds.
St. Bonaventure made things interesting in the final two minutes of the second half by hitting three-straight three-pointers, but the Seminoles managed to make just enough free throws in the closing moments.
The Bonnies took a quick 7-0 lead and got even better news when Florida State guard Michael Snaer picked up two quick fouls in the game’s first three minutes. The Seminoles’ leading scorer sat on the bench for much of the first half as a result and never did get on track, finishing scoreless after going 0 for 7 from the floor.
Nicholson started out red-hot by making his first four shots, but he also found himself in foul trouble when he picked up two fouls in 12 seconds midway through the first half with the Bonnies leading 15-9.
St. Bonaventure actually extended its lead with Nicholson on the bench, but Florida State eventually awoke from its stupor. Two consecutive three-pointers by Loucks and Miller capped off an 8-0 Seminoles run that closed the deficit to just two points.
But the Bonnies proved resilient, entering halftime with a 34-28 lead on Florida State, which was just a week removed from winning the ACC tournament title.
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