Vassell, Polite too much as FSU hands Virginia its third straight loss, 54-50

uva basketballFlorida State got a huge 3-pointer from Devin Vassell with 14.5 seconds remaining, and held on to defeat Virginia in Tallahassee, 54-50, extending the Cavaliers’ losing streak to three games.

The Wahoos (11-5, 3-3 ACC) held a three-point edge with just over three minutes to play after trailing much of the contest, but FSU’s Anthony Polite nailed a 3-ball — his fourth of the night — to tie the game at 47-all with 2:24 to go. Senior point guard Trent Forrest then sank a pair from the line with 1:30 left to put the Seminoles (15-2, 5-1) ahead to stay.

Virginia’s Tomas Woldetensae couldn’t get the ensuing inbound pass across the half-court stripe within 10 seconds, giving it right back to the home team, but Forrest missed the front end of a one-and-one opportunity and the Cavaliers still had life, down by two, as the game went inside a minute to play.

Kihei Clark committed his ninth turnover on a wayward entry pass with 40 ticks showing, leading to Vassell’s triple on the other end that made it a five-point affair. The ninth-ranked Seminoles converted 18 UVA giveaways into 18 points.

Woldetensae redeemed himself with a tough 3-pointer — his third of the game — with 5.9 seconds on the clock, but Vassell swished two free throws to put it out of reach. Braxton Key couldn’t get a final shot up, as he slipped onto his backside as time expired.

UVA fought back from an early 11-2 deficit, scoring 16 of the game’s next 19 points to take a four-point advantage by the under-eight timeout of the opening half. The ‘Hoos led 24-20 on a Clark reverse layup with 4:54 left in the half before going cold, as the ‘Noles closed the period with 11 unanswered points — nine of which came via Polite 3-pointers — over the final 3:45, and the Cavaliers trailed 31-24 at halftime.

Woldetensae banked in the team’s first triple of the night (after an 0-for-8 start) to trim it to 35-34 with just under 14 minutes to go, as the ‘Hoos took the lead back on a steal and a mid-range jumper from Clark. FSU responded with a 9-2 spurt over the following four minutes to lead 44-39 with 7½ minutes left.

The Cavaliers countered with eight straight points to take the late lead, but they came up short for a third straight game despite having a chance to win in the closing minutes.

Vassell led all scorers with 18 points, while Polite added 14 (5 for 6 FG, 4-4 from 3) in 20 minutes off the bench. FSU only shot 37 percent (20 for 54) for the game, but knocked down eight 3-pointers, prevailed 31-29 on the boards, and recorded 10 steals.

Mamadi Diakite was the only ‘Hoo in double figures with a team-high 16 points (6 of 8 from the field), two blocks, two steals and six rebounds, but fouled out in the closing minutes.

Key and Woldetensae each had 9 points, while Clark had 8 and 5 assists. Key and Clark combined for just three rebounds, as the Cavaliers will now prepare for two games in three days — at Georgia Tech Saturday night and then back at home for NC State Monday night.

Courtesy UVA Media Relations:

Team Notes

  • UVA has lost three consecutive games for the first time since losing four straight from Feb. 12-20, 2017 (Virginia Tech, Duke, UNC, Miami).
  • The teams will meet again in Charlottesville on Tuesday, Jan. 28
  • UVA is 1-1 vs. ranked opponents in 2019-20 (both top-10 foes)
  • The Cavaliers are 43-35 against ranked opponents in the Tony Bennett era
  • FSU closed the first half on an 11-0 run, aided by six UVA turnover in the last 3:47
  • UVA was scoreless for the last 4:52 of the first half

Series Notes

  • Virginia is 25-26 all-time vs. Florida State in a series that began in 1991-92
  • UVA has won seven of the last 11 meetings between the teams
  • UVA has limited Florida State to fewer than 70 points in each of the last 18 meetings between the teams
  • Head coach Tony Bennett is 8-9 all-time vs. Florida State

Player Notes

  • Double-figure scorers: Mamadi Diakite (16)
  • Tomas Woldetensae (9 points) had a season-best three assists and matched a season high with a trio of 3-pointers
  • Jay Huff had a team-high seven rebounds off the bench
  • Kihei Clark had a career-high nine turnovers

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