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Late lead vanishes for FSU at home
By JAMEY GIVENS, Times Correspondent
Published January 27, 2008
TALLAHASSEE - After reporters finished asking about Florida State's 69-66 loss to North Carolina State on Saturday, Seminoles coach Leonard Hamilton remained in his chair, stunned after another improbable shot helped cement a loss.
FSU led by three with 40 seconds left when Courtney Fells' banked 3-pointer tied the score at 66 at the Donald L. Tucker Center. Freshman J.J. Hickson blocked Toney Douglas, then calmly hit two free throws to give the Wolfpack its second conference win and hand the Seminoles their fourth league loss.
"We've had two of 'em go in on us with the clock running down," Hamilton said after quipping that his team should start practicing bank shots.
With FSU up by three Jan.12 at Clemson, Trevor Booker's banked 3-pointer tied it at the end of regulation and the Tigers won in double overtime. Saturday, Fells came off a screen at the top of the key and, even with 6-foot-8 Ryan Reid's long arm right in his face, he knocked it down.
"It was contested about as well as a shot can be contested," Hamilton said.
It seemed Toney Douglas' 15 second-half points would propel the Seminoles to consecutive ACC wins, good for .500 in the conference.
But both of Douglas' attempts in the final minute missed, including Hickson's block when Douglas drove baseline on Wolfpack guard Javier Gonzalez.
"At that position we felt like we had an advantage," Hamilton said. "If that last one would have fallen we would have been okay, but they made a good defensive play."
Hickson was fouled after pulling down the rebound and made both free throws to give the Wolfpack a two-point lead.
"Crowd's going crazy and he stepped up there and knocked them down," North Carolina State coach Sydney Lowe said.
Florida State (13-8, 2-4 ACC) built a 12-point first-half lead with 5:43 left, but a couple of quick shots and turnovers opened the door for a 17-0 run for N.C. State (13-6, 2-3) to end the half.
"All of the sudden what was a 12-point lead becomes a dogfight," Hamilton said.
Douglas finished with 17 points. Ralph Mims and Uche Echefu both scored 14 for the Seminoles, and Isaiah Swann added 10. Mims, who played despite flulike symptoms, said letting a win slip away was a too-familiar feeling.