'Noles grind out OT win
By KEVIN BRAFFORD
Published January 12, 2006
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. - Florida State borrowed the time-tested blueprint from its football program in an 87-82 overtime victory against Virginia on Wednesday night.
"We wore them down," guard Todd Galloway said. "We kept running bodies out there without a drop in talent, and eventually it paid off."
Al Thornton's 22 points led the Seminoles (11-2, 2-1 ACC), who have won back-to-back conference games for the first time in nearly two years. It was the first win in Charlottesville since 1998 for FSU, which shot a season-best 60 percent.
The Seminoles rallied from a five-point deficit in the last two minutes against the talent-thin Cavaliers (7-6, 1-2) and never trailed in overtime.
Attrition sapped the Cavaliers. Their only legitimate post players, Jason Cain, Tunji Soroye and Laurynas Mikalauska, fouled out, and their best player, guard Sean Singletary (27 points), was slowed by cramps as he was logging 40 minutes.
"Everything they do is based off Singletary," said Jason Rich, whose two free throws with 2.7 seconds left provided the winning margin. "They run him through screen after screen after screen. He's going to get his; you just want him to work for them as hard as possible."
There were 10 lead changes during the first 40 minutes. Both teams excelled offensively in the first half, the Seminoles making 18 of 30 shots and the Cavaliers 15 of 30.
"We were in a good rhythm," said Rich, who finished with 12 points. "We were making 3s and getting baskets in transition. The only thing was that we couldn't stop them."
Virginia closed the half on a 7-1 run to trail 47-45. The Seminoles pushed their lead back to seven in the first three minutes of the second half only to see the Cavaliers answer with a 9-2 burst to pull even at 54 with 14 minutes left.
The Cavaliers took their largest lead, 77-72, into the final two minutes. But Thornton converted a three-point play with 1:56 left, and 38 seconds later a Rich steal led to a Galloway layup, tying the score.
"We knew that if we could get it to overtime, we liked our chances," Galloway said. Alexander Johnson's basket on the first possession of overtime gave the Seminoles the lead for good, yet the outcome remained in doubt until Thornton blocked a potential tying 3-pointer by J.R. Reynolds with five seconds left.