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SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico — As much as the defeat stung in the immediate aftermath, Florida State coach Leonard Hamilton believes his Seminoles will benefit in the long run their 82-80 loss to Michigan in the semifinals of the Puerto Rico Tip-Off today.
A night after running past No. 10 VCU in its opening game of the tournament, Florida State squandered a 16-point second-half lead to the 14th-ranked Wolverines in regulation before coming up short in overtime.
Ian Miller had 19 points to lead four Seminoles players in double figures, but he had just three after halftime. Okaro White added 18 points and Montay Brandon chipped in 14 in the Seminoles’ first loss of the season.
“We’re still a team that’s trying to find itself,” Hamilton said. “We still have a long way to go. ... We’ll learn from playing a team that took us down to the wire and played a little better than we did.”
Michigan’s Nik Stauskas scored 26 points, including seven in the extra period, and Derrick Walton Jr. added 15 points and Mitch McGary had 14 points and 12 rebounds in his third game back from a back injury.
The Wolverines (4-1) will play in Sunday’s game against Charlotte, which beat Northeastern 86-77 in the other semifinal.
FSU (4-1) had a chance to win the game in the final seconds, but a midcourt heave by Aaron Thomas bounced off the backboard.
Michigan came out aggressive in overtime, with Stauskas scoring six of the Wolverines’ first eight points. He made one of two foul shots with 1:17 to play to put Michigan up 80-77.
The Seminoles misfired on two possessions that could have tied it, and Walton made a pair of free throws to make it 82-77 with 14.8 seconds left.
FSU wasn’t finished, though. Miller broke a second-half scoring drought with a 3-pointer that made it 82-80 with just 5 seconds remaining.
Hamilton said he thought Michigan’s change to a 1-3-1 zone defense disrupted not only Miller, but the flow of his entire team. He also said that self-inflicted mistakes when players dribbled off their feet or stepped out of bounds late in the game were too much to overcome.
“It made us tentative, we were not nearly as aggressive, and then on the defensive end they did a very good job of attacking the basket and getting to the foul line,” he said. “We tried to attack the basket and we couldn’t get to the foul line. ... They deserved this victory today.”
After trailing by double figures for most of the second half, the Wolverines got a steal and 3-pointer by Spike Albrecht to cut the lead to 56-51 with 9:04 to play in regulation.
Brandon scored six straight points for FSU to make it 63-54, before a basket by Stauskas got the Wolverines back within seven.
Walton then got loose under the basket a few possessions later and was fouled as his layup dropped through to make it 64-58 with 3:52 remaining. He hit the free throw to complete the three-point play.
The Wolverines kept scrapping and got a 3-pointer from Robinson to pull back within 67-63.
Robinson then got a strip on defense and was fouled on the fast break. He hit a pair of free throws to cut the lead to just a basket.
Two foul shots on the other end by Devon Bookert put FSU back up by four, but it went right back to 69-67 on a two free throws by Stauskas with less than a minute to play. FSU took the shot clock down, but Bookert’s 3-pointer from the corner was long.
Michigan called a timeout, and Stauskas took the inbounds and was able to get a layup to tie it.
Miller attempted to push the ball up the court, but stepped out of bounds just beyond midcourt. McGary got a decent look for a jumper at the buzzer, but it was just a bit too strong.
Though he was quiet in the final 20 minutes, Miller hit on six of seven shots and scored 16 points during a frenetic first half in which the Seminoles were able to build as much as a 13-point lead at one point.
“I’m still learning about this team,” Hamilton said. “I think we recognize we’re a pretty good basketball team. ... We’re not quite there yet, but we’re moving in that direction.”