LAKE BUENA VISTA, FL — The clock struck midnight in the Magic Kingdom as No. 14 Florida State’s run through the AdvoCare Invitational came to a halt on Sunday afternoon.
The Seminoles fell to defending national champion Villanova, 66-60, in the tournament championship at HP Field House at the Walt Disney World Resort.
Senior Terance Mann was named tp the All-Tournament team.
Down eight with 5:42 left to play, Florida State (5-1) found itself repeatin25g what it did in its semifinal matchup against LSU—rallying late.
Junior guard Trent Forrest converted a layup off an offensive rebound to bring the game to within four. On FSU’s next possession, redshirt freshman RaiQuan Gray hit a layup and drew a foul, then capitalized on a three-point opportunity to close the gap to 54-51.
Earning the motto “18 strong” a year ago, the Noles continued to flex their rotation throughout the weekend. Thirty-three of their 60 points came from their reserve unit, as redshirt sophomore forward Mfiondu Kabengele tied the team lead with 11 points and secured a team-high seven rebounds.
The four-day tournament served as a coming out party for the Burlington, Ont., native. Kabengele scored in double figures in all three games throughout the weekend, including 15 points against LSU and the game-winning, 3-point shot in overtime.
FSU’s reserves scored 30-plus points in each game of the AdvoCare Classic, with each member of the rotation given a chance to make an impact.
Tied at 39-39 with 9:39 remaining, redshirt freshman guard Anthony Polite would come off the bench to drain a 3-pointer, his sixth of the season. A few possessions later, Gray hit another layup to tie the game at 44.
Gray showcased his ability with a career-high seven points on 3-of-4 shooting. The big man pulled out many moves in his arsenal by putting the ball on the floor, providing energy on the offensive glass and being able to knock down free throws.
Through a back-and-forth affair, the Seminoles continued to show their resilient effort. After storming back down nine with under three minutes to go against LSU in the semifinal, the Noles showed flashes of repeating in their bid to knock off the defending national champions.
Down seven with 42 seconds left, Forrest drove the lane to score on an and-one layup, connecting on the free throw to bring the game within four at 61-57. A few possessions later, he scored on yet another layup to make the game 62-60 with 13 seconds remaining.
Perfecting his craft at the free-throw line was part of Forrest’s formula in the offseason to improve as an all-around player. He finished the tournament 8-of-9 from the free-throw line, bringing his mark to 26-29 (89.7 percent). He leads all Noles in free throws made and attempted during the young season.
Fresh from their cleaning of the offensive glass against LSU, when they hauled in 22 offensive rebounds, the Noles brought in 13 offensive boards on Sunday, compared to seven by the Wildcats (5-2). Florida State outrebounded its opponents on the offensive glass 44-23 during its three-game run in Orlando.
While the objective was not what Florida State hoped for, the results suggest a promising season ahead.
Florida State stood toe-to-toe with the defending national champion, rallied past a top-20 opponent in LSU and took care of business against UAB, a team that is projected to make noise in its conference.
With yet another top-20 matchup in the ACC-Big Ten Challenge awaiting them in Tallahassee against the No. 19 Purdue Boilermakers on Wednesday (9:15 p.m., ESPN2), the Noles will get a chance over the next couple of days to regroup and refocus.
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