A night Florida State’s Michael Snaer wanted to forget turned out to be one he’ll always remember.
Snaer’s 3-pointer with 2.6 seconds left boosted No. 20 Florida State to a 48-47 victory over Virginia Tech on Thursday night, capping an improbable finish that kept the Seminoles in a first-place tie in the Atlantic Coast Conference.
”Mike is very confident in his ability to knock the shot down because he’s a gym rat,” Florida State coach Leonard Hamilton said of Snaer whose 3-pointer at the buzzer beat Duke last month. ”He’s in the gym so much knocking those shots down that he has confidence. It doesn’t bother him that he’s missed several.”
Until he let the game-winner go, Snaer had been having a miserable game. He picked up an early technical for mouthing off to an official and managed only six points. He hadn’t come close on three earlier 3-point attempts.
Florida State (18-7, 9-2) trailed 45-37 with 1:29 left in the game, but Virginia Tech missed 5-of-6 free-throw attempts over the final 1:09 to leave the door open for Snaer’s heroics from the right side of the court.
”The basketball gods just smiled on us in this one,” Hamilton said. ”You’ve got to go and take games. People are not going to give them to you.”
Snaer, who had made only 3 of his 10 previous shots, hit the game-winner from nearly the identical spot he produced similar heroics in Florida State’s 76-73 win at Duke on Jan. 21. Ian Miller’s 3 from the corner with 44 seconds left got the Seminoles within 47-45.
”You don’t have time to think about where your sweet spot is,” Snaer said. ”You’ve just go to put it up. When you’ve done it before it’s not hard to believe you can do it again.”
Virginia Tech (14-12, 3-8) had a chance to take a two-possession lead when Jarell Eddie was fouled grabbing an offensive rebound with 10.2 seconds left. But he began to cramp up. Robert Brown was selected to take the free throws and missed both.
”In the end it had nothing to do with made field goals,” Virginia Tech coach Seth Greenberg said. ”It’s real simple, you step up and make free throws and the game is over. You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to figure it out.”
Erick Green led Virginia Tech with 18 points and was nearly fouled as he launched a last-second desperation shot that bounced off the rim as the buzzer sounded.
”We got the look we could get with two seconds left,” Greenberg said. ”John Wooden couldn’t have drawn up a play with no timeouts. You try to get the ball up the floor.”
Green scored seven points that keyed a 17-0 Virginia Tech run to start the second half and the Hokies had a 40-25 lead with 14:09 left on Brown’s only field goal in the game.
Miller led Florida State with 11 points and Snaer had nine to help the Seminoles, who have won nine of 10 and caught North Carolina in the ACC standings. Duke went into a late game Thursday against North Carolina State one-half game behind the Tar Heels and Seminoles.
Florida State shot 40 percent from the field.
The Hokies shot just 32.7 percent in the game and were beaten 41-31 on the boards.
The Seminoles, who led 25-23 at halftime, are 17-0 this season when leading at the break and 6-0 at home in the conference where they have won 13 of their last 14 games dating to last season.