Michael Snaer's collegiate finale took one ironic, cruel twist on Tuesday night.
Snaer, who has delighted Florida State fans with six game-winning shots in the past two seasons, pulled up for one last 3-pointer before the buzzer sounded on the opening round of the National Invitation Tournament the Donald L. Tucker Center.
But with his team down five to Louisiana Tech, this one wouldn't have mattered much even if it had gone in. It didn't, anyway, and instead just bounced off the rim.
Game over. Season over. College career over.
Louisiana Tech 71, Florida State 66.
“I give them credit because I think they were a little more aggressive,” FSU coach Leonard Hamilton said. “They were quicker to the ball and created those deflections and opportunities because of them just playing at that high level of energy that we just didn't seem to match.”
It was almost exclusively due to Snaer that FSU was even in striking distance in the first place. The senior scored 24 points, made five 3-pointers and played the entire 40 minutes.
No other Seminole scored more than 11.
It was a familiar vice that doomed Florida State on Tuesday. The Seminoles simply could not hang on to the ball, a lethal shortcoming against a team like Louisiana Tech, which specializes in creating turnovers.
The Bulldogs came into the game forcing an average of 17.4 points per game. FSU turned it over 18 times and Louisiana Tech took advantage for 26 points.
In a game that where neither team could find much separation down the stretch in the second half, the turnovers haunted the Seminoles as they reflected on the game.
“We turned the ball over without really giving them a chance to work for it,” Hamilton said. “That's what I'm disappointed in.”
“It's tough because turnovers kill any kind of momentum you try to gain,” said freshman Montay Brandon, who added 10 points. “It gave them energy throughout the game.”
But even as they turned that ball over at an alarming rate – 13 times in the first half – the Seminoles looked ready to overcome it early in the second half.
After taking a 28-24 lead into the break, Florida State extended its advantage to nine less than two minutes into the second half.
From there, though, things completely fell apart. Three FSU turnovers aided an 11-0 Bulldogs run that took only one minute and 42 seconds to complete.
“When we started going up nine, I started figuring, 'OK, here we go, we're going to push up the lead,'” said junior forward Okaro White, who scored 11. “But they kept on playing aggressive and they picked up their intensity and played hard and fought back into the game.”
Michael Snaer scored 24 points in his final game as a Florida State Seminole.
The teams traded baskets for much of the second half, but Florida State could never manage a lead greater than four points.
“From that point on, it was nip and tuck, nip and tuck,” Hamilton said. “And they got a couple runners and one 3 and I think they got some separation late in the game and we couldn't dig ourselves out of it.”
When J.L. Lewis scored his first points of the game to break a 62-62 tie with 2:47 remaining, the lead changed hands for the final time. The Bulldogs outscored FSU 9-3 over the final 3:13.
Sophomore guard Raheem Appleby scored a game-high 27 points for Louisiana Tech, which will play either Southern Mississippi or Charleston Southern in the next round of the NIT.
Photos by Travis Register
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