By Mike Fitzpatrick
NEW YORK | Dwayne Bacon scored all but two of his 17 points in the second half and No. 16 Florida State finally overpowered valiant Virginia Tech 74-68 on Thursday night in the quarterfinals of the Atlantic Coast Conference Tournament.
The second-seeded Seminoles (25-7) reached the semifinals for the first time since their 2012 championship and will play Friday night against No. 21 Virginia or No. 22 Notre Dame.
Zach LeDay led the seventh-seeded Hokies (22-10) with 22 points and nine rebounds, but Florida State seized control when he went to the bench with four fouls. Seth Allen scored 17 points for Virginia Tech, which was still leading midway through the second half despite a big disadvantage in size and depth against the Seminoles.
Freshman forward Jonathan Isaac added 11 points and 12 rebounds for Florida State, which outrebounded the Hokies 45-31 and outscored them 42-20 in the paint. Terance Mann had 11 points, nine rebounds and the tiebreaking 3-pointer with 8:49 left during the Seminoles’ decisive surge.
Florida State, with 7-foot-1 Michael Ojo and 7-foot-4 Christ Koumadje, have 11 players who average at least 10 minutes per game. They used 12 in all to Virginia Tech’s seven.
Trying to contend with Florida State’s imposing size and depth finally took its toll on the Hokies midway through the second half. That’s when the 6-foot-7 LeDay, doing all he could to hold his own underneath against a parade of taller opponents, was whistled for his fourth foul and went to the bench with Virginia Tech ahead by two.
The Seminoles immediately assumed control for good, going on runs of 13-0 and 18-1 to grab a 68-53 lead with 4:01 left. LeDay re-entered with 6:24 to go and Virginia Tech down nine, but it turned out to be too late.
The gritty Hokies responded with a 10-0 surge, and Justin Robinson’s 3-pointer trimmed it to 68-63 with 53 seconds to go. They were still down five when Allen missed on a contested drive with 31 seconds left, and the Seminoles closed it out from there.
The Hokies never trailed in the first half and led for 17 1/2 minutes before going into the break up 35-33. They extended the margin to five before Bacon and Xavier Rathan-Mayes scored all the points in a 10-0 run that gave Florida State its first lead.