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February 17, 2007With three games remaining in the regular season, the Florida State basketball team finds its backs firmly against the wall.
The Seminoles saw a second-half rally fall short on Saturday and let another Atlantic Coast Conference road victory slip away during a 73-70 loss at Virginia.
FSU (17-10, 5-8 in the ACC) now must put on its most important rally of the season if it wants to play in the NCAA tournament. The Seminoles can still claim a .500 record in conference play, but that means they will have to win two on the road -- at Maryland on Wednesday and at Miami to close the season on March 3. FSU also has a home game with North Carolina State on February 24 stuck between those all-important road games.
The Seminoles saw their chance at a victory slip away on Saturday when despite twice rallying to cut Virginia's lead to one point. But Virginia wing Adrian Joseph had the biggest answer, twice hitting 3-pointers to bury the Seminoles.
Joseph's fifth 3-pointer of the game -- at the 4:07 mark -- gave the Cavaliers a 65-60 lead. The Seminoles failed to cut into that lead on consecutive possessions that ended with sophomore forward Uche Echefu launching 3-pointers from the baseline.
FSU senior forward Al Thornton turned in his best outing of the season, scoring 30 points and adding 16 rebounds. He twice ignited the Seminoles on second-half scoring runs that nearly pushed FSU into the victory column.
While the FSU defense did a fairly solid job on Virginia guards Sean Singletary (6 of 21 from the floor) and J.R. Reynolds (5 of 13 from the floor), the Seminoles couldn't contain the Cavaliers from behind the 3-point line. Virginia shot 25 of 67 from the floor (37.3 percent), but was 12 of 26 (46.2 percent) from 3-point range.
Joseph, Singletary and Reynolds combined for 11 of the 12 3-pointers. Playing its third straight game without starting point guard Toney Douglas, the Seminoles couldn't find consistent scoring to complement Thornton's efforts.
Junior guard Isaiah Swann (13 points) made some key shots, but couldn't get untracked when the FSU offense needed another lift.
Echefu added 8 points and 9 rebounds to the cause and senior guard Jerel Allen had 9 points.
The Seminoles took the loss despite shoring up two problem areas -- FSU had just 12 turnovers (to 15 assists) and out-rebounded Virginia 41-40.
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