Don’t ask them how they did it. As a team the Seminoles shot just 37% from the floor, committed 27 turnovers, let an eleven point in the second half lead slip away but somehow still found a way to win the game, beating the Iona Gaels 54-49.
Leading 47-42 with 3:42 to play Jermel Jenkins hit a three pointer from the right corner to bring the Gaels within two. Derwin Kitchen traveled on the ensuing possession and after getting the ball back on a palming call on Iona, Devidas Dulkys committed the team’s 25th turnover.
To compound the error Dulkys was called for a foul on the play sending Scott Machado to the free throw line, whereupon he tied the score at 42 with just 2:40 remaining.
But FSU continued to pound the ball inside and it paid off with two free throws each by Solomon Alabi and Chris Singleton. Kitchen’s bank short shot from the left side made it a 6-0 run and a 53-47 cushion with 23 seconds left on the clock.
Even then the ’Noles made it interesting with Machado slicing through the Seminole defense for a layup and Kitchen dribbling the ball out of bounds after getting caught in a trap in the corner.
Michael Snaer came through on defense though, skying into the air blocking Jenkins shot from the right corner. Dulkys finished off the scoring by making one of two from the line for the margin.
To say this was an ugly game for the Seminoles would be an understatement. The same problems that plagued the ‘Noles against Florida were duplicated and even exceeded in the game against Iona.
If the game plan for Iona was to use every trick in the book, some not so legal if you asked the FSU players afterwards, to get the ‘Noles off their game, it nearly worked.
Once again full court pressure defense was the culprit and FSU played right into the Gaels’ hands, dribbling into traps and failing to pass the ball promptly out of them. Meanwhile Iona controlled the tempo never letting FSU get into any kind of transition game whatsoever.
The Seminoles, who one player commented afterwards that they played down to the opponent tonight, found themselves in a dog fight right from the start, trailing almost the entire first half. A three ball from the corner by Dulkys gave FSU a slim 25-24 lead at halftime.
Following intermission the Seminoles came out with a little more focus taking care of the ball better. A 10-0 run in the first 3:32 gave the ‘Noles a 35-24 lead.
That evaporated quickly as FSU resumed turning the ball over allowing Iona to tie the game at 39.
To a man the team knew they got away with one tonight with several saying the obvious, the ‘Noles need to play better,, especially on offense.
Leading the Seminoles in scoring was Kitchen with 16 points. Singleton was the only other player in double figures with 13.
The good news besides the score was Iona wasn’t any better with FSU’s defense, holding the Gaels to 33% from the floor and just 2 of 15 from behind the arc. The Gaels also contributed to a very sloppy game with 20 turnovers of their own.
With the win, Florida State moves on in the winner’s bracket of the Old Spice Classic. They will face Alabama Friday at 5:00 PM.
The Crimson Tide knocked off Baylor earlier in the evening using a defense the Seminoles should be familiar with by now. For Billy Donovan assistant coach Anthony Grant has brought some of those same full court tactics with him to Alabama and they were very effective against the Bears in winning 79-76.