- Associated Press - Thursday, January 16, 2014

CORAL GABLES, Fla. (AP) - With defense dominant in a seesaw game, Florida State finally found a way to pull away - by making every shot.

The Seminoles sank their final six field-goal tries and their last eight free throws over the final 7:46 Wednesday to beat the Miami Hurricanes 63-53.

“The main thing is our guys kept executing and didn’t panic,” Florida State coach Leonard Hamilton said. ‘We kept moving the ball and made the extra pass.”

Florida State scored 13 consecutive points over the final 4 minutes, while the Hurricanes missed six shots in a row during the decisive stretch and went 3½ minutes without a point.

With that, the Seminoles (12-4, 3-1 Atlantic Coast Conference) earned their third consecutive victory.

“It was a tough game,” center Boris Bojanovsky said. “We had to grind it out. It feels really good to beat them, because last year they beat us twice.”

Miami (9-7, 1-3 ACC) has already matched its loss total in the conference for all of last season, when it won the title.

The 14th and final lead change came when Okaro White’s two free throws put Florida State ahead to stay, 52-51. Garrius Adams then blew a dunk for the Hurricanes, and that was their last chance to regain the lead.

Ian Miller’s 3-pointer made it 57-51, and he added two free throws in the final minute to help seal the win.

“Toward the end of the game, my teammates trusted me to make big plays,” Miller said.

The Seminoles shot 62 percent in the second half, and Miami coach Jim Larranaga said his team’s defense was a factor.

“It was a really hard-fought defensive battle in the first half,” Larranaga said. “In the second half our defense was very inactive, the opposite of the way it was in the first half. We got spread out and gave them a lot of passes over the top to the rim. That gave them the ability to score consistently.”

Meanwhile, Florida State switched to a zone during the game, and Miami shot only 32 percent in the second half.

“We played more zone defense in the second half than we have in a number of years,” Hamilton said.

The fade at the finish was familiar for the Hurricanes. In five of their seven losses, they’ve led late in the second half.

“We’ve just got to keep pushing forward,” said senior Donnavan Kirk, who scored a career-high 21 points and blocked four shots.

Aaron Thomas led the Seminoles with 12 points. Bojanovsky and Devon Bookert added 11 each.

Thomas said his team was braced for the Hurricanes’ best effort.

“Before the game they were saying it was a rivalry game, so we weren’t sleeping on Miami,” Thomas said. “We were able to hit shots and execute toward the end.”

Bookert made three 3-pointers for the Seminoles, who went 7 for 15 from beyond the arc after sinking 16 3-pointers in Sunday’s win over Maryland.

Florida State went 14 for 17 from the free-throw line, while Miami went only 2 for 6. Miami missed 19 of 28 3-point tries.

There were no fast-break points, reflecting the methodical pace with both teams playing stingy zones that forced a lot of long possessions and outside shots.

Kirk shot 9 for 12. Rion Brown added 21 points, but the rest of the team shot 1 for 15 from 3-point range.

“We only had two guys making shots, and that’s tough,” Larranaga said. “We just didn’t give them enough support.”

Miami’s bench was outscored 24-4.

The Hurricanes missed 13 of their first 17 shots, and the Seminoles led for most of the opening half, building an advantage of 18-11. James Kelly’s basket put Miami ahead for the first time, 21-20.

Kirk beat the final buzzer with a basket for a 28-24 lead. Brown’s back-to-back 3-pointers gave the Hurricanes their largest lead at 43-38 midway in the second half.

Copyright © 2016 The Washington Times, LLC.

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