No. 15 FSU seeks bounce-back win vs. Gardner-Webb

One constant for No. 15 Florida State for nearly three years was its dominance at home — especially against non-Atlantic Coast Conference schools.

But it’s 2020.

The Seminoles unexpectedly suffered their first loss of the season on Saturday night and had a 27-game home winning streak snapped by UCF, 86-74.

FSU (4-1), which also had a 41-game win streak against nonconference opponents halted, will try to bounce back on Monday night when it hosts Gardner-Webb (1-3) in Tallahassee. The Bulldogs (1-3) picked up their first win of the season on Friday at home against VMI.

The Seminoles will play their sixth game in 12 days and their final nonconference game before opening ACC play at Clemson on Dec. 29.

The Seminoles let an early 10-point lead slip away and their backcourt was outplayed by UCF’s guard tandem of Brandon Mahan and Darin Green Jr., who combined for 52 points.

“That is all mental,” FSU coach Leonard Hamilton said. “There are going to be a lot of teams that we are going to play this year that are going to play with a lot of energy. So, unfortunately, we don’t have the luxury of using that as an excuse.”

FSU was also outscored 32-22 in the paint and 26-8 on fast breaks, and allowed UCF to shoot 47.4 percent from 3-point range and 50 percent overall.

Florida State’s leading scorer, M.J. Walker (17.8 points per game), totaled 22 points against UCF. RaiQuan Gray and Anthony Polite each finished with 14 points.

But guard Scottie Barnes and center Balsa Koprivica, whom each entered the game averaging double figures in scoring, were held to eight and six points, respectively.

“Moving forward, I gotta be more active defensively and do more things as a group to get more rebounds, stuff like that to help our team,” Walker said. “Scoring isn’t necessarily a focus of mine, it is something that I do. But I feel like for us to win, I have to be able to do other things to help our team.”

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Gardner-Webb has had six postponements or cancellations so far this season, and lost to another ACC foe, Pittsburgh. But their leading scoring trio of Jaheam Cornwall, Jacob Falko and Lance Terry helped the Bulldogs snap a three-game skid to open the season.

“We knew (VMI) were going to make a push at us but we stayed together,” Gardner-Webb coach Tim Craft said. “I feel like we are on a roll now.”

Cornwall leads the Bulldogs averaging 14.5 points, 5.3 rebounds and 3.3 assists per game. He finished with 21 points against VMI. Falko (10.3 points, 4.8 rebounds, 2.0 assists) finished with 16 points. Terry (10 points vs. VMI) is averaging 11.0 points per game and has shot 55.6 percent from 3-point range.

“I really like the depth on our team,” Craft said. “Guys are really staying engaged even though they might not get the same number of minutes every night.”

–Field Level Media

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