It was a game whether neither team led by more than six points. That is until a brilliantly executed two on one fast break gave the seminoles a 67-59 lead with 2:44 to play. Montay Brandon wrestled the rebound away and tossed a lengthy pass to an open Ian Miller in front of the seminole bench. Miller instantly zipped the ball past the lone defender to a streaking Terrance Shannon who laid the ball in.
In a game of back and forth runs the entire game, it was the team that made the last run that counted. And in those final 5 minutes of the game an unlikely hero in Shannon was the catalyst for that final push.
It was shannon's no look pass to Okaro White that opened up a 63-57 lead. For a player that admitted after the game that he's there to do the dirty work, it was quite a game for the forward as Shannon finished with 15 points (11 in the second half), 10 rebounds (four on the offensive end), and added 4 assists as well before fouling out with just 17 seconds remaining.
It was shannon's slam dunk at the buzzer at the half the gave FSU a 36-32 half time lead.
An aggressive, attacking Hawks team tried to overtake the 'Noles, but FSU answered the challenge showing a great deal of poise even for a team loaded with first year players.
That was reflected in the calm manner of Devon Bookert, who added more 5 assists to his record and sank two free throws with twenty four seconds left in the game - upping the score to 73-64 and sealing the win.
Leonard Hamilton spoke afterward about how proud he was of his team.
"We did the little things to win the game", Hamilton commented. "St. Joe's made runs at us, but we were unselfish and moved the ball better in the second half."
It has been an amazing turnaround from the season opening loss to South Alabama, a loss that Shannon said they were "real down about."
Hamilton explained it by saying, "we were young and inexperienced, and that was a wake up call for us. This is a team that is growing."
Leading the way again for FSU was White with 16 points. Michael Snaer, who received Tournament-MVP, had 14 points. Brandon was a perfect four-of-four from the field and three-of-three from long range finishing with 11 points.
Once again the Seminoles offense was very effective. While the first half was a little out of sync at times, a smoother second half saw the 'Noles shoot 55% for the game. The Hawks had four players in double figures, but as a team, shot just 42% from the field.
Florida State will add a trophy to the display case and take a well deserved day off on Sunday. It will be back to work however on Monday to prepare to host North Florida at 7:00 PM. The game will be shown on ESPN3.
"We're going to take a little time to appreciate this win", Hamilton said. "And use it to improve. We need to make sure to take care of business and not have anymore South Alabama's."