- Associated Press - Thursday, March 1, 2012

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. — Virginia coach Tony Bennett heard the whistle and didn’t see what happened, but figured his team was in good shape.

Instead, he missed what proved to be a turning point as No. 24 Virginia squandered an 11-point lead in the final 4 1/2 minutes Thursday night and lost 63-60 to No. 22 Florida State on Ian Miller’s contested 3-pointer from the right wing with 0.8 seconds to play.

On the play in question, the Seminoles had just pulled to 58-52 on Miller’s three-point play. With the Cavaliers trying to inbound the ball, Harris was called for tossing a Florida State player aside in a fight for position, and instead of getting the ball, they saw Miller drill a 3-pointer.

“Initially I thought, ‘OK, they grabbed us,’” Bennett said of the pivotal whistle with 3:17 remaining. “And then I saw them wave it away. That was big. We fought hard to get to that spot and then we gave it away.”

Even after Miller’s 3-pointer that followed, Virginia still led 58-55, and later stretched it to 60-55 when Jontel Evans made a pair of free throws with 3:01 to go. But that was the Cavaliers’ final points as the Seminoles scored 16 of the last 18.

Seminoles coach Leonard Hamilton pointed to Virginia’s defense, ranked second nationally and allowing just 52 points per game, and said Virginia did the right thing in the final minutes, choosing not to foul and to trust its defense to at least get the game to overtime.

“We hit a great shot, a tough shot,” he said. “I’m not sure their strategy could have been any better unless they blocked the shot.”

Mike Scott scored an ACC career-best 28 points to lead the Cavaliers (21-8, 8-7 Atlantic Coast Conference).

“That’s good, but it really doesn’t mean anything because we lost,” he said.

Miller scored 15 of his 18 points in the second half, and got just free enough from Sammy Zeglinski in the final seconds to make the shot from deep in the right wing. It was Miller’s fifth 3-pointer and the seventh for the Seminoles (20-9, 11-4 Atlantic Coast Conference).

Virginia also lost its seventh straight to Florida State, and for the first time in 18 games this season when scoring 60 points.

The Cavaliers seemed to have the game in hand, leading 58-47 with 4 1/2 minutes left, but Snaer hit a pair of free throws to end a 13-3 run by Virginia. Miller followed with a three-point play after a Virginia turnover, and made a 3-pointer after Harris was called for the offensive foul.

That made it 58-55 and, after Evans hit two free throws for Virginia, Snaer made a 10-foot floater and Deividas Dulkys made a 3-pointer, his only basket of the night, to tie it with 1:49 remaining. Neither team scored again until Florida State called a timeout with about 30 seconds to play, worked the ball to Miller hands and he lost Zeglinski just enough to make a line-drive basket.

A 3-point heave by Zeglinski, also playing his final home game at Virginia, was well off the mark at the buzzer.

The Cavaliers trailed 29-20 at halftime and 31-20 and Gibson’s basket to start the second half, then went on an 18-4 run as their other scorers came alive. Scott had only four points in the burst, Joe Harris hit a pair of 3-pointers and Zeglinski hit his first of the night.

Snaer ended the run, but Scott scored the Cavaliers’ next three baskets as they opened a 45-40 advantage.

A free throw by Gibson and Miller’s 3-pointer pulled the Seminoles to 45-44, but Gibson was called for goaltending on Zeglinski’s drive, and Scott followed a miss by Florida State with a fadeaway from about 17 feet. Miller stopped Virginia’s run with another 3-pointer, but then Harris hit two free throws after being fouled on a fast break, Zeglinski made a 3-pointer and a bizarre sequence cost the Seminoles dearly.


After a steal by Zeglinski, he turned it over at the other end and the Seminoles tried a deep pass down court. Harris gave chase and ran into Bernard James, sending both to the floor hard, with Harris on top of James’ foot. He pulled it out and kicked Harris, and the crowd went wild.

After watching the replay and consulting, the officials ejected James, and Scott made a pair of free throws for the flagrant foul, making it 56-57. He then drew a fifth foul on Okaro White, disqualifying White, and made both ends of a one-and-one to give Virginia a 58-47 lead.

The Cavaliers had only seven scholarship players available because reserve guard Malcolm Brogdon sat out with a foot injury. Three of the players available to Bennett picked up two fouls before halftime, and Virginiastayed in it by converting nine Seminoles turnovers into 10 points.

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