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Valparaiso, Ind. (seminoles.com) - Facing each other for the first time since an NCAA Tournament matchup 18 seasons ago, four-seed Florida State (20-14) fell to one-seed Valparaiso (28-6), 81-69, Thursday night at the Athletics Recreation Center in the second round of the National Invitational Tournament. It was the first time an Atlantic Coast Conference team had played at Valparaiso.
In a quick turnaround for both teams after playing in the NIT opening round Tuesday night, Florida State never led as the Crusaders opened a 7-0 lead through the first five minutes before a jumper by sophomore Xavier Rathan-Mayes got the Seminoles on the board. The Noles closed to within 7-6 on a layup by freshman Terance Mann, but that was the closest FSU would get on the night. The Seminoles trailed 39-29 at halftime, failing to contain Valpo forward Alec Peters, who went to the break with 16 points on 6-of-7 shooting and five rebounds. Rathan-Mayes led the Seminoles in the first half with 10 points.
After halftime, the Seminoles got within three points, 51-48, after a three pointer from freshman Malik Beasley during a scoring barrage midway through the half before the Crusaders slowly began to pull away. Rathan-Mayes finished with a team-high 19 points on 6-of-13 shooting from the field, while Mann and fellow freshman Dwayne Bacon led the Noles with six rebounds each.
The Crusaders had four players in double-digits, led by Peters’ 26 on 9-of-14 shooting. Peters also had a game-high nine rebounds.
Valparaiso outpaced the Noles in field goal shooting (47 percent to 41), three-point shooting (44 percent to 20), and free throw shooting (81 percent to 69). The Crusaders also led in assists, 19 to 12, and rebounds, 36 to 32.
For the Noles, the season ends in the second round of the NIT for the fifth time in Hamilton’s tenure. The Seminoles went 8-10 in the ACC on the season and reached the second round of the ACC Tournament. The season was highlighted by a win over eventual NCAA Tournament No. 1-seed Virginia and a second ranked win over Notre Dame.
The senior class of Devon Bookert, Montay Brandon, Boris Bojanovsky, and Michael Saxton finish their careers with three postseason appearances, including an NIT semifinal appearance at Madison Square Garden in 2014.