Tallahassee, FL- Florida State basketball narrowly escaped an upset by Boston University with an 81-80 overtime win. FSU blew a late lead to force overtime, but Matthew Cleveland’s put-back bucket with two seconds remaining in OT gave FSU the win. It was FSU’s third win in the last four days. Cleveland and Caleb Mills each had 17 points. FSU has won four straight games and is now 5-1 heading into next week’s matchup versus the top-five Purdue Boilermakers.
The win was much tougher than it needed to be, but FSU pulled out the win without two rotation pieces (including a starter) and while playing their third game in the last four days. FSU now holds the all-time college basketball record for most consecutive OT wins with 12 straight.
Freshman Jalen Warley made his first career start with RayQuan Evans unavailable for the Seminoles. Warley picked off a BU pass on the Terriers’ second possession, which led to a Caleb Mills and-one to open the scoring. BU turned the ball over on each of its first three possessions. John Butler split two defenders for a dunk to put FSU up 7-6 at the first media timeout.
The 7’1 freshman has displayed a remarkable skill set early in the season. Out of the break, he showed off his three-point stroke with a corner triple. FSU’s young talent was on display all over the court early. Matthew Cleveland converted an and-one off a floater with a defender in his face. Veteran Wyatt Wilkes got in on the fun with a triple of his own. A put-back from Cam’Ron Fletcher gave FSU an 18-12 lead at the U-12 media timeout.
The Terriers missed their first seven three-pointers, but trailed by just four less than 11 minutes in. Daman Tate hit a three-pointer to trim FSU’s lead to one. Ethan Brittain-Watts then converted an and-one to cap a 10-0 run and give BU its first lead. The Seminoles responded with a run of their own. Mills hit his first triple to swing the lead right back in FSU’s hands. Off Warley’s second steal, Mills found Fletcher in transition for an and-one:
Mills then hit one of two free throws out of the U8 media timeout to cap a 7-0 FSU run. In the first 12 minutes, the ‘Noles forced seven turnovers.
Malik Osborne and Tanor Ngom both picked up two fouls within the first 12 minutes and didn’t see action the rest of the half. With Naheem McLeod unavailable (due to an injury he sustained in pre-game warmups), Leonard Hamilton turned to walk-on Harrison Prieto in the front-court. Brittain-Watts hit a step-back triple over Prieto out of the break to end FSU’s run. A pair of free throws tied the game at 25 with 6:30 remaining in the half. Prieto got in the box score with a wide-open layup off a pretty pass from Mills:
Mills swiped the ball from a big in the paint for his second steal. He found Fletcher in transition for a triple to put the ‘Noles up 32-25 at the U4 TO. The deep ball capped FSU’s second 7-0 run of the half:
The game of runs continued after the break. Brittian-Watts was the Terrier to end the run again as he knocked down another perimeter shot. 17 minutes in, the junior guard had already tied his season-high in points. Tate’s second three capped an 8-0 run and gave BU a 33-32 lead. Fletcher’s hot-shooting gave the lead right back to FSU. The Kentucky transfer’s second triple upped his first half total to 11.
The Seminoles went into the half with a 37-35 lead. FSU shot 45% from the field and was 5-11 from deep. BU was 48% from the field. 26 of Florida State’s points came from the bench. The ‘Noles forced 10 turnovers, leading to 17 points. But their seven turnovers also led to 14 Terrier points.
Fletcher led the way with 11 points on 4-6 shooting. Mills had seven points, four assists, and two steals. Osborne, FSU’s leading scorer entering the game, played just six first half minutes.
Mills got the ‘Noles off to a quick start with a step-back jumper just outside the paint on the first possession out of the locker room. A steal by Mills led to Anthony Polite’s first triple. Another Mills steal, his fourth, led an alley-oop slam by Osborne. Warley’s first bucket, a floater in the lane, put the Seminoles up eight at the first media timeout of the half.
BU continued to hang around and keep the Seminoles’ lead to single digits despite the strong start to the half. The Terriers’ perimeter shooting kept them in the game. Anthony Morales made a three-pointer for his first bucket. Back-to-back buckets by Cleveland, one coming off after an offensive board by Fletcher, upped the lead to nine for FSU’s biggest lead to that point. Javante McCoy’s first triple cut the lead to six at the U12 TO.
The Terriers continued to hang around as the two teams struggled to get much offense going over the next three minutes. Osborne and Mills produced buckets for the ‘Noles, but Sukhmail Mathon kept the FSU lead at six with five straight punts. FSU led 59-53 with 7:57 remaining.
Four straight second chance points by Osborne and Polite pushed the lead to eight. The ‘Noles responded to a BU bucket with back-to-back turnovers, a double-dribble and a travel. Leonard Hamilton called his second timeout with 4:17 remaining and FSU up six.
Out of the timeout, Polite made the play of the game. The senior rose up for a massive block at the rim on a potential dunk that would’ve trimmed the lead to four. Polite then found Cleveland for a layup on the other end to extend the lead to eight with just over three minutes remaining. BU had to take their final two timeouts as they struggled to inbound the ball. After the timeouts, Fletcher forced a turnover with his length to keep the lead at eight with 1:30 remaining.
McCoy banked in a layup over a pair of Seminoles to cut the lead to six. Mills was fouled late in the shot-clock and hit a pair of free throws to push the lead back to eight with 48 seconds remaining. Mathon made two free throws just seven seconds later. The door remained open for BU as Fletcher missed the front end of a one-and-one. BU took advantage of the opportunity with a triple by McCoy.
FSU was able to advance the ball to the front court and take some time off the clock before a pair of free throws by Mills extended the lead to five with 16 seconds remaining. Morales made two free throws to make it a one-possession game again with six seconds remaining. Polite had an opportunity to ice the game, but FSU missed the front-end of a one-and-one again. Morales sprinted down the floor and nailed a triple to send the game to overtime.
BU took the lead early in overtime with a pair of free throws by McCoy. It was the Terriers’ first lead since early in the first half. Back-to-back missed buckets and two more BU free throws extended the lead to four with just over three minutes remaining in OT. Polite ended FSU’s drought with a layup out of a timeout. Cleveland got a slam dunk off a bad inbounds pass by the Terriers to tie the game at 75.
BU responded with a dunk of their own to take the lead back. Cleveland brought the Tucker Center back to life with a tough finish inside the lane, but he missed the and-one free throw to keep the game tied at 77 with 2:15 remaining. On the other end, Mathon was able to convert an and-one after backing down Polite in the paint. BU led by three with 1:52 remaining. Polite cut the lead to one as he made a pair of free throws after being fouled on the perimeter.
Fletcher had an open layup roll in and out of the hoop with 44 seconds remaining. Morales missed a triple on the other end and Mills ran down the other end and threw a jumper towards the glass. Cleveland out-jumped everyone in the paint and put back a layup for the lead with two seconds remaining.
Cleveland leaped high and intercepted a long inbounds pass to end the game. The freshman was the best player on the court in overtime. He led all scorers with six points on 3-5 shooting.
FSU notables Cleveland: 17 pts (career high), 7 reb (tied career high), 3 ast (tied career high), 2 blk (career high)
Mills: 17 pts, 5 ast, 5 stl (career high)
Polite: 11 pts, 5 reb, 5 ast, 2 stl
Fletcher: 11 pts, 5 reb, 1 stl
Osborne: 10 pts, 7 reb
BOX SCORE GAME THREAD Up next: The Seminoles will travel to Indiana to face the top-five Purdue Boilermakers next Tuesday. The game, which is part of the Big Ten/ACC Challenge, will be on ESPN. Tip-off is scheduled for 7:30 PM.