After taking a 15-point lead in the first half, the Seminoles need a defensive stand late to beat Georgia Tech 71-64.
By JASON SCHNEIDER
© St. Petersburg Times, published February 16, 2003
TALLAHASSEE -- Florida State showed off the potential of a rising program with a 15-point first-half lead. But FSU nearly blew it in the second half Saturday before holding on for a 71-64 win over Georgia Tech.
The Seminoles shot 60 percent from the floor in the first half and 75 percent from 3-point range heading into the locker room with a 45-30 lead.
But the Seminoles and Yellow Jackets swapped roles in the second half and Tech trimmed the lead to five with 53 seconds left. FSU shooting guard Tim Pickett forced Ismail Muhammad to dribble the ball off his foot and out of bounds. Freshman Todd Galloway hit a free throw for a six-point FSU lead and on the ensuing Yellow Jackets possession Anthony Richardson stole the ball and fed Galloway for the clinching layup.
"I thought there were a couple of times when we attacked the basket with 17 or 18 seconds on the shot clock when we could have killed a little more time," FSU coach Leonard Hamilton said. "I don't have my 'Be ahead 15 points at half' speech accomplished yet, so I need to work on that. I didn't think I'd need it. So I think that had a little bit to do with that."
In the second half the Seminoles shot 36 percent and were 0-for-4 from beyond the arc as Georgia Tech clawed its way back.
Guard BJ Elder had 16 of his 19 points in the second half as the Yellow Jackets went on a 6-0 run thanks to four FSU turnovers. Trevor Harvey finally got the Seminoles on the board with turnaround jumper at 17:50 and Richardson had the next four points as he tied a career high with 18.. He also had a career-high five blocks, with four in the first half.
"(The blocks) had a big impact on our team because we came out kind of flat," Richardson said. "It's a noon game. It's kind of hard to get up for those, and I figured that. I didn't know what I could do, but when I blocked a few, I knew what I could do."
FSU's leading scorer, Tim Pickett, tied a career low with eight, but Adam Waleskowski (career-high 12 points) and the bench (27) carried the load.
"We tried to play a zone (defense) but they shot the 3 extremely well," Georgia Tech coach Paul Hewitt said. "They had some guys make some unexpected contributions against the zone, which if you want to win games, you've got to do."
Waleskowski, who had one 3-pointer this season, hit two in the first half as the Seminoles used the deep ball to break the Georgia Tech zone en route to their big advantage.
The Jackets managed to cut the lead to four with a little more than two minutes left, but Pickett's defensive play stopped the surge.