Bonzie Colson dominated Virginia with 21 points and 10 rebounds to send Notre Dame to ACC Tournament semifinals. (Photo by Kevin Larkin/Atlantic Coast Conference, used with official permission)
BROOKLYN -- Florida State and Notre Dame became the final teams to reach the semifinals of the 2017 Atlantic Coast Conference Men's Basketball Championship, earning quarterfinal victories in Thursday's night session at Barclays Center. The Seminoles and Fighting Irish will square off at 9:30 p.m. in the second of two semifinals, preceded by regular season champion and No. 1 seed North Carolina facing their archrival and No. 5 seed, Duke, at 7 p.m.
FLORIDA STATE 74, VIRGINIA TECH 68
The Seminoles (25-7) did not take their first lead until the early part of the second half, and recovered from a brief cold spell to seize control with an 18-3 run over the final minutes. Three players ended the evening in double figures for Florida State, led by Dwayne Bacon's 17 points. Jonathan Isaac, currently ranked as the No. 6 overall prospect in Draft Express' latest 2017 NBA mock draft, recorded a double-double with 11 points and 12 rebounds, while Terance Mann added 11 points and nine boards to the winning cause. Zach LeDay's 22 points led the Hokies (22-10) and all scorers on a night where head coach Buzz Williams lamented Virginia Tech's 15 turnovers and minus-14 margin on the glass.
"We had a turnover rate of 21 percent, so 20 percent of the time, we gave them the ball," he revealed. "They got 18 offensive rebounds, which led to 13 more field goal attempts than us."
Even with the loss, the Hokies have likely done enough to secure an NCAA Tournament berth, something that has not been celebrated in Blacksburg in over a decade.
"It's a blessing" said senior guard Seth Allen. "We're going to be grateful for it. We're going to treat it the right way, and we're going to prepare as best we can for postseason or wherever God lets us play."
Meanwhile, No. 2 seed Florida State credited an aggressive mindset as the impetus behind a victorious postseason opener.
"I think we stayed in attack mode," said Bacon. "Every guy that we had on the team that was in the game was just pitching in, in a positive way, and I think that's what made us have a successful run."
NOTRE DAME 71, VIRGINIA 58
The third-seeded Fighting Irish, ACC Tournament champions in 2015, defeated Virginia for the first time since joining the conference, and pulled away on the strength of an 11-0 run to start the second half. Bonzie Colson's 21 points and 10 rebounds led all participants in both categories as Notre Dame (24-8) won their sixth straight contest at Barclays Center and third of the season, having captured the Legends Classic in November on the home floor of the Brooklyn Nets.
"I thought we defended fabulously for 40 minutes to win tonight," head coach Mike Brey reflected. "Getting off to a good start in the first half and the beginning of the second half, I think, was a key, but I'm really proud of our defense to hold them under 40 percent field goal percentage."
Although the sixth-seeded Cavaliers (22-10) got a quartet of double-figure scoring nights, including ten points and six assists from New Rochelle's Ty Jerome, explosive freshman Kyle Guy; the key to Virginia's victory against Pittsburgh Wednesday, was held scoreless on 0-for-8 shooting.
"As a first-year guy, he's got to learn from that," head coach Tony Bennett said of Guy's struggle from the field. "That wasn't one of his stronger games, and there's going to be some ups and downs."
The win for Notre Dame broke a 10-game losing streak to the Cavaliers, and the positive result provided a tangible measure of elation in the locker room that the Irish hope can carry them into a championship.
"I knew we hadn't beaten them since I've been here," Colson admitted. "We had a little bit more edge, a little bit more swagger coming out, and I think that's something we need to keep doing throughout this postseason."