If the Florida State men's basketball team was handing out game balls after Saturday's 81-76 win over La Salle, it might want to toss one in assistant coach Andy Enfield's direction.
Enfield, FSU's shooting guru, earned his keep against the Explorers, as the Seminoles hit 25 straight free throws and 30 of 32 for the game. It was a performance that astounded La Salle coach John Giannini.
"We out-shot them and out-rebounded them," Giannini said. "Their free throw shooting was really tremendous. I don't know the last time I saw a team make 30 free throws in a game. That made the difference."
With the Seminoles (12-4) missing three of their top four post players, the Explorers (4-8) were able to shoot 51 percent from the floor, including 53 percent from the 3-point line. FSU could not keep up from long distance, hitting just 28 percent for the game. La Salle, who also out-rebounded Florida State 34-25, led by as many as nine in the second half. But the Seminoles started to claw their way back into the game with improved energy on the floor and red-hot shooting from the charity stripe.
Florida State outscored La Salle 10-1 in a late three-minute stretch, turning a five-point deficit into a four-point lead. Yet only two of those 10 points game from the free-throw line. The other eight came from Toney Douglas and Jason Rich.
FSU coach Leonard Hamilton said those buckets from Douglas and Rich, and the defense the Seminoles played in order to get those buckets, made the difference.
"I thought we created in order to catch back up from being down nine," he said. "We got some steals, got some deflections and we took the lead not from the free throw line but from aggressive play and we closed the game out."
Uche Echefu and Ralph Mims led FSU in scoring with a career-high 19 points each. Echefu hit all 11 of his free throws, while Mims hit nine of 11. Rich scored 16 and Douglas scored 12. Rodney Green led La Salle with 16 points.
With two huge games on the horizon – on the road at No. 19 Clemson and at home against No. 8 Duke – Hamilton said the lulls he saw from his team in Saturday night's first half can't happen again.
"I'm hoping we learned a very valuable lesson tonight," he said. "We had a lot of energy at the end of the game to get rebounds and block shots and get steals. I think a lot of it came from how we conserved so much energy in the first half. That's not the way you need to play this game and we're not going to have the luxury of doing that anymore for the remainder of our schedule."