By the time Michael Snaer finally finished his live television interview following his latest game-stealing, last-second 3-point shot, most of the crowd inside the Donald L. Tucker Center had made its way to the parking lot, delirious after Snaer delivered a 73-71 victory over the Maryland Terrapins.
Michael Snaer's 3-pointer with 1.1 seconds to play lifted FSU to a 73-71 win over Maryland. Photo by Travis Register
Some, though, stayed to see the hero off the court, their cheers becoming a makeshift curtain call for the senior who – once again – stepped up in a game's final moments and drained the shot that the Seminoles absolutely had to have.
“I didn't think it would actually happen,” Snaer said. “I'm pretty sure their coach had to say something like 'Don't leave him, whatever you do.' I think I'm done surprising people.”
Wednesday's theatrics brought Snaer's game-winning career total to four and comes on the heels of his buzzer-beating 3-pointer in last week's victory over Clemson.
He switched it up a little bit this time. Instead of his trademark spot from the corner of the key, where he'd hit his previous three game-winners, Snaer set up this time on the weak side baseline.
With eight seconds to go and the Seminoles trailing by one, Snaer inbounded the ball to Montay Brandon who then passed to Ian Miller. Miller nearly lost the ball before collecting it, finding Snaer in the corner and issuing a dart of a pass.
When Snaer pulled up to shoot, Maryland coach Mark Turgeon knew what was coming.
“We just kind of panicked and went for the ball and left Snaer wide open,” he said. “We knew he was going to make it.”
FSU coach Leonard Hamilton, despite having seen this scenario play out several times during Snaer's career, wasn't quite so sure.
Okaro White scored 14 points in FSU's win over Maryland. Photo by Travis Register
“I'm not real sure I had any thoughts in my mind at the time other than 'I sure hope that ball falls in,'” Hamilton said.
It did with 1.1 seconds left on the clock. Time enough for Maryland's Dez Wells to get one last shot. His attempt fell short and FSU completed a victory that gave the Seminoles their first season sweep over Maryland since 1993.
Florida State (12-8, 4-3 Atlantic Coast Conference) again struggled on the boards – they were outrebounded 36-20 – but showed plenty of positive signs, too.
Hamilton was especially encouraged by Miller's performance. Hampered by a foot injury for nearly the entire season, Miller no longer practices with team team so that he can be pain-free for games.
Hamilton said he Miller is one of the few players that could ride the stationary bike during the week then turn in the type of performance he did Wednesday.
“For him to come out and give us 10 points and gives us leadership on the floor, I thought, really made a difference for us,” Hamilton said.
FSU also received positive contributions from its two freshman big men, Boris Bojanovsky and Michael Ojo. Bojanovsky finished with a career high eight points and shot 3 of 4 from the floor, and the 7-1, 290-pound Ojo finally played with the intensity that Hamilton has been craving.
His thundering dunk in the first half brought the crowd of 7,222 to its feet and his work on the defensive end helped throw off Maryland star forward Alex Len, who finished with just four points – well below his season average of 13.2.
Michael Ojo finally threw down his first dunk of the season on Wednesday night.
“It's about time. I think that's my first dunk of the whole season,” said Ojo, who played a career high 14 minutes. “You have to step up. Our seniors, they've been working so hard all season long. But we freshmen have just come together and were like we've got to step it up and assist our seniors in winning some basketball games.”