Fla. State ends wait, tops Duke Three with :03 left caps 89-88 OT win

January 25, 1993|By Don Markus | Don Markus,Staff Writer

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- Florida State had waited a long time for this chance, remembering the second-half lead it had blown against then top-ranked and undefeated Duke here last season. But Pat Kennedy, the Seminoles' coach, had waited even longer than his players and most of their fans.

"We worked seven years for this," said Kennedy.

From the look of things yesterday at the Tallahassee-Leon County Civic Center, from the look on Kennedy's flushed face, the wait was well worth it. Because now it is over, the result of Florida State's thrilling 89-88 nationally televised overtime victory against the No. 6 Blue Devils.

After erasing a 10-point deficit in the first half and an 11-point deficit in the second half, after losing star forward Douglas Edwards (21 points) on fouls with 1:28 left in regulation, the unranked Seminoles found an unlikely hero in Byron Wells. The fifth-year senior forward hit a three-point shot with three seconds left in overtime to win.

"We didn't get the bounce against Indiana, we didn't get the bounce against UCLA, but we got the bounce today," said Kennedy, alluding to a pair of close losses earlier in the season as well to Wells' shot from the deep corner, which found the entire rim before dropping.

Duke was the only Atlantic Coast Conference team Florida State hadn't beaten since joining the league last season. The victory was the fifth straight for the Seminoles (13-5, 5-1 ACC) since junior Charlie Ward moved back into the starting lineup after missing the first 12 games because of football.

Ward, the school's starting quarterback and the ACC Player of the Year in 1992, was the defensive hero for Florida State. He prevented Duke (13-3, 3-3) from getting off a final shot at the end of regulation, harried All-America point guard Bobby Hurley into a turnover with 19 seconds left in overtime, then stole the inbounds pass on a last-ditch attempt by the Blue Devils.

Asked what he wanted to do on the final play, Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski genuflected, then said, "Make a call to Minnesota."

Krzyzewski was referring to the current residence of former Blue Devil Christian Laettner, whose miraculous last-second shot beat Kentucky in last year's NCAA East Regional final. Laettner took a long inbounds pass from Grant Hill, sank a turnaround 17-footer and eventually helped Duke to its second straight national championship.

"I've been on the winning side of a lot of these kinds of games," said Krzyzewski. "We'll go on. We'll be a better team for this. To dwell on the negative would be a mistake."

If Krzyzewski wasn't thinking about that play, Kennedy was. That's why he had 6-foot-9 center Rodney Dobard defending Tony Lang's inbounds pass, something Wildcats coach Rick Pitino chose not to do. But not only wasn't Laettner around to provide last-second heroics, Hill wasn't on the floor, either.

The junior forward, who threw the pass to Laettner last year at the Spectrum in Philadelphia, marred an otherwise flawless performance by committing his fifth foul 56 seconds into overtime. As Dobard went in for a dunk, Hill tried to block it. Dobard hit both free throws for an 84-82 lead.

"It was a dumb play on my part," said Hill, who finished with a game-high 25 points, eight rebounds, four assists and four steals.

Still, even without Hill -- or Laettner for that matter -- the Blue Devils seemed to be in control when reserve forward Marty Clark made a short baseline jumper with 1:15 to play in overtime to give the Blue Devils an 88-86 lead. But after Sam Cassell missed nTC a pull-up jumper over Duke center Cherokee Parks in the lane, Hurley turned it over to the Seminoles with 19 seconds left.

It turned out Hurley was thinking about Ward.

"You never know where he is," Hurley said of the pesky Seminoles point guard, who had five steals yesterday. "Maybe that was in the back of my mind."

Down two, Florida State called a timeout with 15 seconds left. The Seminoles appeared to be setting up a play for Cassell to go one-on-one against Thomas Hill. The senior guard from Baltimore had won a game under similar circumstances earlier this month, making a three-point play with one second left in overtime to beat Wake Forest.

But Kennedy wanted a three.

"I told the kids I wanted to win it," said Kennedy, who would call the victory his biggest in 13 years as a Division I head coach. "We were too exhausted to go another overtime. If we had to play another five minutes, Duke would have beat us."

With everyone in the building thinking Cassell was going to clear out and try to win it -- "that was the idea," said the former Dunbar star, who had missed an 18-footer to win with 24 seconds left in regulation -- the play was actually set up for either Wells or sophomore guard Bob Sura to come off a screen for a three.

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