By: Fletcher Keel | WCTV Eyewitness Sports
March 21, 2019
HARTFORD, Conn. (WCTV) -- Florida State defeated Vermont, 76-69, in the first round of the NCAA Tournament and will play the winner of Thursday afternoon's game between Marquette and Murray State on Saturday.
Tied 27-27 to start the second half, Vermont continued to play strong in the opening five minutes of the second half, with threes from from Ben Shungu, who was the game's first double-digit scorer, and Ernie Duncan, who hit three of his first four three point attempts and finished hitting five of his six tries, to put the Cats up 34-31 with 17:13 to play.
Vermont continued to hang around and found success by flipping their offensive script in the early stages of the second half; instead of relying on the long ball, the Catamounts found success playing Florida State's game by getting the ball inside and forcing fouls to get to the free throw line.
A David Nichols three and a powerful Terance Mann dunk started putting the Seminoles in a bit of a grove, despite UVM answering the mini-run with an Isaiah Moll three.
Mann took the game over in the second half, and his lay up with 10:46 to play gave FSU a lead, at 46-45, that the Noles would never surrender.
While FSU won by seven, they were in control of the game for the entire back half of the second half, with Vermont hitting timely shots and relying heavily on the three ball to try and stay in the game.
Vermont shot 50 percent from deep (16-for-32) and 43.4 percent from the floor but were unable to find success at the free throw line, making just seven of their 13 foul shots.
By comparison, the Seminoles shot 38.2 percent from the floor and just 25 percent from three, but went 31-37 from the charity stripe, helping to seal the deal.
The Catamounts began the game strong, holding the lead for the opening 9:58 of the game thanks to some hot shooting from the floor, including a 2-for-2 three point shooting half from Ernie Duncan that helped propel the Catamounts to a 7-for-13 shooting day in the opening 20 minutes.
Florida State got hot in the middle stages of the half, roaring off a 14-0 run to go from a 16-7 deficit to a 21-16 lead.
Vermont stopped the bleeding with an Anthony Lamb three pointer, leading to a UVM run of 11-6 run to end the half.
When the game was at its tightest, FSU was able to find success by finding their big men, namely Christ Koumadje and Mifondu Kabengele, inside who were able to take advantage of the size discrepancy over UVM.
Vermont was most successful when they were in transition and making quick passes, never allowing Florida State to get set on defense, usually leading to wide open looks from three. UVM began to fall apart in the second half thanks to some sloppy play on both ends of the offensive floor; when they attempted to swing the ball around the perimeter and when they fed the ball inside.
Kabengele led all scorers with 21 points and added 10 rebounds and Mann scored 19, hitting six of his eight shots.
Four Catamounts - Lamb, Smith, Ernie Duncan and Shungu - finished with double digit point totals. Lamb led the way with 16, the other three finished with 15.