Originally posted on Fox Sports Florida  |  Last updated 3/16/12
Florida State keeps finding ways to win this season. On Friday afternoon, the Seminoles found a way to survive in the NCAA Tournament when sharpshooter Michael Snaer went scoreless. Two seniors made sure that FSU wasn't going to be upset. Bernard James scored a career-high 19 points on 8-of-11 shooting and pulled down nine rebounds and Luke Loucks had 13 points, eight rebounds and six assists as third-seeded FSU rallied in the second half to hold off No. 14 seed St. Bonaventure 66-63 at Nashville. Okaro White had nine points and a crucial late rebound for FSU (25-9), which can return to the Sweet 16 with a win over Cincinnati (25-10) on Sunday. "We've been kind of a resilient team all year," FSU coach Leonard Hamilton said. "We've been in a lot of these close games." Andrew Nicholson had 20 points for St. Bonaventure (20-12), the Atlantic-10 champion that for most of Friday appeared poised to pull off the upset of the NCAA Tournament and bust brackets across the country. Nicholson had 12 points and Da'Quan Cook added eight points as St. Bonaventure grabbed a 34-28 lead at the half. James had eight points in the first half as FSU shot 39 percent from the floor but still couldn't keep pace with Nicholson and the Bonnies. "The guy was really focused," James said. "I've not nothing but respect for him. I see why he's an NBA prospect." Snaer picked up his second foul just three minutes into the game and didn't attempt a shot in five minutes of the first half. He finished 0 for 7 from the floor. Nicholson also picked up two first-half fouls, but he was able to play significant minutes as the Bonnies were able to maintain the lead. But St. Bonaventure went cold late in the second half, going 5 minutes and 21 seconds without a point. The Bonnies saw their 52-48 lead evaporate, as Ian Miller grabbed FSU's first lead on a 3-pointer with 5:19 left. White's dunk with 2:47 left punctuated the 12-0 run by FSU that gave the Seminoles a 60-52 lead. The sophomore forward had nine points, but his biggest play of the game may have been the offensive rebound that he tapped out to Loucks after Deividas Dulkys' missed free-throw attempt with 26 seconds left. Loucks was fouled, and in all he made three of four shots from the free-throw line in the final minute to help FSU hang on. "I think physically and mentally our team was just really spent," Loucks said. "That was one of the toughest games we've played all season, and that's all the credit to their team. They came out, fists swinging, and we really didn't hit back until, you know, maybe 10 minutes to go in the second half. We really, really had to fight to win that game." All of the games this postseason have been dogfights, with FSU defeating Duke and UNC by three points each in the final two games of the Atlantic Coast Conference Tournament. Friday was very similar. With Snaer on the bench early and misfiring in the second half, Hamilton directed Loucks to push the ball inside to James. "I thought we made the adjustments in the second half," Hamilton said. "We went to some different offensive systems. Got the ball to Bernard a little more regular, consistently, and he was able to come through for us." Said James: "I just felt like I did what my team needed. I played as hard as I could and, you know, wasn't being selfish, trying to do whatever the team needed." James was just what FSU needed on Friday, and his performance was enough to ensure that the group of six seniors gets to enjoy a long weekend in Nashville. The Seminoles will immediately regroup and prepare for Cincinnati, a team that is deeper and more talented than FSU but was also pushed to the limit by a Texas rally in the second half Friday. The Bearcats defeated Georgetown and Syracuse in the Big East tournament before falling to Louisville in the championship game.
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