At some point in his career there will be a night when Michael Snaer's shot in the final seconds falls short.
Thursday night against Virginia was not that night.
With Florida State trailing by a point, Snaer curled around from the baseline to catch a pass from point guard Devon Bookert, drove to the basket and floated in his sixth-career game-winning shot with his left hand and 4.4 seconds left on the clock. Snaer was fouled on play and completed the three-point play to finish with 14 points in the game.
Virginia failed to get a shot up as time expired and the Seminoles escaped with a 53-51 win at the Donald L. Tucker Center.
"I knew I was getting the ball at the end of the game and I knew I was going to make a play," Snaer said. "Someway, somehow I'm making a play. I'm going to shoot it or one of my teammates are going to get an open look if somebody helps."
Virginia took the lead on a pair of Joe Harris free throws with 1:28 left in the game. After a missed shot from Snaer, the Seminoles' defense came up with the stop it needed with just 21 seconds left in game, trailing 51-50.
The Cavaliers let the shot clock wind down and Akil Mitchell tried to drive to the basket, but junior forward Okaro White redirced his shot in the lane as Bookert came down with the rebound.
White was credited with two blocks and two steals on the night, to go with a game-high 17 points and a team-high six rebounds.
"That was a really, really big defensive play that he made there," FSU head coach Leonard Hamilton said. "That was kind of a highlight, but there were a lot more plays made, just fighting screens, communicating, contesting shots, switching and communicating."
Bookert brought the ball up over half court and Hamilton called a timeout with 12.8 seconds left in the game. In the huddle Hamilton drew up a play for Snaer to once again get the ball in clutch time.
"We wanted to run along the baseline to free him and give him an opportunity either create for himself or create for someone else," said Hamilton.
Snaer got the pass, took a step to his right and then exploded to his left towards the basket and the game-winning shot over Harris. It was the sixth winner of his career and fourth this season, all coming in conference play.
"He double-pumped, probably jumped five feet, wiggled the ball around and shot it with his opposite hand, so it was pretty hard," Bookert said when asked how tough of a shot the game-winner was.
Late in the second half it looked like FSU might be able to cruise to victory, leading by as many as 11 points. But with 6:05 left in the game Ian Miller had the ball stolen by Justin Anderson that lead to breakaway dunk.
UVA took the momentum and went on a 7-0 run to cut the lead to just four points. The Cavaliers continued to push at it got stops on the defensive end and took the lead with 1:28 left before FSU finally pushed back on defense in the final minutes for the win.
"Like some of the games in the past we had a little spell where I think we turned the ball over twice, missed on a point-blank layup and all of the sudden they scored on all three of them," Hamilton said. "That has happened to us it seems in each game. We were very fortunate to hang onto the lead their until the end, and then of course Michael hits a big shot to win."
With the exception of the UVA run in the final six minutes, Thursday's game was one of the better defensive efforts Hamilton's team has put forth this season. UVA shot 38.6 percent from the floor, with the majority of its points coming on offensive putbacks, and was just 2 of 14 from behind the arc (14.3 percent).
Harris, UVA's leading scorer, finished with 13 points but was just 1 of 6 from three-point range.
"Tonight we showed signs of that junkyard dog defense that we've been playing a number of years," Hamilton said. "This is a good shooting team and they had some good looks that didn't fall, so I can't say our defense didn't help, but overall I thought that we didn't give them as many open looks as the last time we played against them."
In addition to good defense, FSU did a good job taking care of the basketball with just 12 turnovers. Bookert had no turnovers in 32 minutes, had nine points three assists and four rebounds. Kiel Turpin scored 11 points.
The win moved FSU to 16-14 overall and 8-9 in the ACC, while UVA fell to 20-10 overall and 10-7 in the ACC. FSU closes out the regular season at home against North Carolina State on Saturday at 2 p.m. ET
"I'm just really trying to finish up strong and win every game, especially at home," Snaer said. "Tonight was a big game for us that we really needed, just to finish up strong and get some momentum going into the ACC Tournament. And now we know there's some teams out there that we can beat."