Florida State tips Virginia 53-51 on Snaer's shotBy BRENT KALLESTAD , Associated Press
Mar. 7, 2013 10:24 PM ET
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — There wasn't any doubt who would have the ball in their hands with the game on the line.
And there wasn't any doubt in the mind of Florida State's Michael Snaer what he was going to do with it.
Snaer's left-handed runner in heavy traffic with 4 seconds left Thursday lifted the Seminoles to a 53-51 win over Virginia after the Cavaliers had fought back from an 11-point deficit to take the lead in the game's final seconds. Snaer's basket put the Seminoles up 52-51 and he was fouled on the play and made the free throw.
"He was able to explode to the basket and fortunate enough to make the basket and get the free throw," Florida State coach Leonard Hamilton said.
"I knew that I was going to make the play some way, somehow," said Snaer, who moved past former Seminole great and NBA Hall of Famer Dave Cowens into 10th place on the school's all-time scoring list. He now has 1,489 career points. Cowens, however, played just three seasons. "I have to make sure whenever somebody comes over to help, I'm ready to find my teammates. Nobody came over to stop me."
It was the fourth game-winning shot by Snaer in Atlantic Coast Conference play this season and his sixth in league play over the past two years.
Okaro White led the Seminoles (16-14, 8-9 ACC) with 17 points while Snaer finished with 14 and Kiel Turpin 11.
Akil Mitchell led Virginia (20-10, 10-7) with 15 points and a game-high 12 rebounds, but missed a layup with 21 seconds left with the Cavaliers leading 51-50.
Florida State's Devon Bookert grabbed the rebound and Florida State called a timeout with 12 seconds left to set up the latest game-winner for Snaer, whose last-second heroics also lifted the Seminoles to wins over Clemson, Maryland and Georgia Tech earlier this season.
"He hit a tough shot," Virginia coach Tony Bennett said. "We thought we made him make a tough shot."
Joe Harris, whose two free throws gave Virginia the lead with 1:28 left, threw up a desperation heave from 3-point distance as the final buzzer sounded after the Cavaliers had trouble bringing the ball upcourt. Harris finished with 13 points. Freshman Mike Tobey had 10 of his 12 points at the half for Virginia, which shot just 38.6 percent (22 of 57), but made all five of its free throws.
Virginia, which has lost four of its last six games, trailed 47-36 before Justin Anderson's dunk ignited a 15-3 run with 6:01 remaining.
"We got the right mindset and fought for everything to get ourselves in that position to win it," Bennett said "They finished stronger."
Both teams came into the game needing a win, albeit for different reasons.
The defeat leaves the Cavaliers scrambling for a postseason NCAA bid and opening-round bye in next week's ACC tournament while Florida State assured itself of an eighth consecutive winning regular season with the victory.
After starting the league season with road victories at Clemson and Maryland, Florida State went just 5-9 and three of those wins came on Snaer's buzzer-beating baskets.
Florida State's only ACC wins since January going into the game came over Georgia Tech, Boston College and Wake Forest — all teams languishing in the bottom half of the ACC standings along with the Seminoles.
The win over Virginia was Florida State's first over a team with a winning record in the ACC and avenged a 56-36 loss in Charlottesville, Va. in mid-January when the Seminoles managed 16 points in the first half.
It was the game when Seminoles' forward Terrance Shannon suffered a neck injury that kept him sidelined for a dozen games. The 6-foot-8 junior returned just last week after being cleared by doctors. Although he played briefly last weekend at North Carolina, Shannon didn't see action against the Cavaliers.
Florida State went ahead for the first time Thursday with 7:17 left in the opening half on a tip-in by White, who was fouled and added the free throw for a 14-12 Seminole lead. White scored 11 of Florida State's last 15 points of the first half.
Both teams close out their regular seasons Sunday at home. Virginia hosts longtime rival Maryland while Florida State wraps up its regular season Saturday against North Carolina State.