Seminoles have to close out games

The Seminoles have lost two straight games and most likely should have won both of them. Still, if Florida State applies what it had to learn the hard way, another deep tournament run is possible.

FSU had the Huskies right where they wanted them.

Down three with seven seconds to play, Florida State'es Jeff Peterson sent UConn freshman Ryan Boatright to the line to shoot three free throws following a bad foul. Boatright hadn't played in a game in his Connecticut career.

You wouldn't have known it from the result.

Boatright made all three and sent Saturday's game into overtime. The rest is history, and the Seminoles dropped their second consecutive game 78-76. The ‘Noles had their chances to secure the upset victory but squandered them.

One thing is certain regarding this year's Seminole squad: They must find a way to win close games.

Still, Florida State fought valiantly throughout the contest. Despite falling behind by double digits in the second half, the 'Noles managed to grab a three-point lead with just seven seconds to play. However, Peterson's foul allowed Connecticut's new freshman sensation to tie the game at the charity stripe.

An opportunity squandered.

Nonetheless, FSU still had a chance to win the game at the end of regulation. The ball was placed in the hands of Michael Snaer, who dribbled baseline and took a jumper that fell just short as the clock expired.

Another opportunity squandered.

The ‘Noles continued to fight and were within two with under a minute to play, when Luke Loucks went to the line with a shot to tie the game. But he missed both free throws, and FSU once again had coughed up a quality chance.

Florida State had one last gasp to win the game, but Snaer's 3 missed at the buzzer.

You can see the trend: If FSU is going to be successful in these types of games down the stretch, then it must find a way to finish them off.

The talent and ability of this team is apparent. However, the understanding of how to win close games in crunch time isn't there yet. That is something that hopefully comes with time, but it will take devotion to the learning process.

That learning process starts now.

FSU has lost consecutive games by a combined seven points and had opportunities to win both of them, but the ‘Noles were unable to come up with the big plays when they needed them most. In order to be successful for the remainder of the season, the Seminoles have to find a way to close out other teams. Otherwise, it may be a long road ahead.

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Despite the back-to-back losses, FSU can take some positives from a holiday weekend in the Bahamas and apply them going forward. Dropping a game in overtime to the defending national champs is nothing to be ashamed of, and the ‘Noles competed well throughout the contest.

Snaer was efficient and led the team with 20 points. Senior Deividas Dulkys added 14, and forward Bernard James secured yet another double-double, recording 11 points and 14 rebounds.

Nonetheless, the ‘Noles did not achieve what they set out to do and now must find a way to regroup. As much as it hurts to lose close games like these, they are learning experiences. FSU can use them in a positive way the rest of the season.

And the 'Noles better learn fast, as there is little time to rest. FSU has a date with Tom Izzo and the Michigan State Spartans on Wednesday.


Matt Ritter is the basketball reporter for NoleDigest.com and a graduate student in Media Communication Studies at Florida State.


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