Florida State, the No. 3 seed in the West Region, was on upset alert on several occasions and even left the door open for a last-minute comeback, but in the end the Seminoles took down No. 14 Florida Gulf Coast, 86-80, on Thursday night in the first round of the 2017 NCAA Tournament.
Dwayne Bacon went for a game-high 25 points followed by Jonathan Issac’s 17. Brandon Goodwin had a game-high 28 points in a losing effort.
A fun game from the start — in front an expected big crowd in Orlando — with both teams jumping out to first-half runs, as well as Dwayne Bacon and Rayjon Tucker throwing down emphatic slams.
The Seminoles surrendered the lead late in the half following a 10-0 run from the Eagles but recaptured it just before halftime, up 40-36 at the break. Dunk City made several mini runs in the second half, but could never wrestle back the lead. Part of that is due to Florida State’s size and length finally taking its toll on them. Florida State help 46-26 advantage on the glass, and even though that didn’t result in many second-chance points, dominance in that department kept the Eagles to one shot almost every trip down the floor.
It also didn’t help that Demetris Morant, the Atlantic Sun Defensive Player of the Year, rolled his ankle early in the first half and did not return. The 6-foot-9 Morant had five points and five boards in 18 minutes of action and was doing a solid job against Florida State’s frontline.
The Seminoles advance to face No. 11 seed Xavier, who knocked off No. 6 seed Maryland earlier in the evening. The Musketeers are playing much better as of late, mainly because of the stellar second half performances from Trevon Bluiett. Florida State will once again have the size advantage, but Sean O’Mara had a promising outing on Thursday, scoring a career-high 18 points and grabbing seven rebounds off the bench.
Florida Gulf Coast ends the season 26-8. The program will now endure an offseason where its head coach of four seasons, Joe Dooley, will likely be linked to several coaching vacancies.