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March 15, 2009

Duke dashes title hopes with 3s

ATLANTA - Florida State's hopes of winning their first ever ACC Tournament Championship were largely dashed by halftime. Poor shooting put the Seminoles in a 14-point hole at the half, and despite a abbreviated second half run, they could not deny Duke its 17th championship, falling 79-69.

"I just think that we ran into a team that shot the lights out," FSU coach Leonard Hamilton said. "In basketball you have those types of days where it seems like the basket is as wide as the ocean and everything you throw up there is going to go in. This was one of those days for them. You just have to give them their due."

Led by a trio of upperclassmen - tournament MVP Jon Scheyer, Gerald Henderson and Kyle Singler - the Blue Devils converted 12 of 25 3-point attempts. Scheyer's 29 points led all scorers, while Henderson added 27 and Singler 14.

Toney Douglas led the Seminoles with a team tournament-tying record 28 points, good enough to earn All-Tournament honors. He tied the previous mark set by Terrell Baker in 1999.

Forward Chris Singleton added 15 points, 11 of which came in the second half, and center Solomon Alabi was able to score 10 points in the loss. Alabi earned All-ACC Tournament second team honors.

Florida State trailed 35-21 at the half due to making only five of 23 attempts from the floor. They went without a basket the final eight minutes.

The Seminoles' cold streak was complicated by Duke's hot outside shooting. The Blue Devils were only 13-of-34 from the floor in the opening half but made 7-of-14 from deep, including five consecutive threes in the opening half.

"They came out hot," Singleton said. "They switch (on defense) and they focused on Toney and forced him to miss a couple of shots and they made shots on the other end."

Florida State closed the gap to 42-36 when Ryan Reid finished a Douglas pass with just over 12 minutes to play, prompting Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski to burn a timeout.

Krzyzewski's club responded. Scheyer ended the run with a 3-pointer from the top of the key. Singleton answered with a tip-in, but Scheyer was fouled by Derwin Kitchen on a 3-point attempt. His three free throws gave the Blue Devils a 10-point lead that the Seminoles never seriously threatened.

"It was frustrating," Douglas said. "We cut it to six, then Scheyer hit a 3 - a dagger. Then they had the momentum going from there and we couldn't get over the hump."

The Blue Devils pulled out to their biggest lead of the game, 65-43, with just over six minutes remaining. Florida State would never get it closer than 10 points in the final minutes.

"Every time we faltered they made us pay," Hamilton said. "They were shooting so well that we dug a hole for ourselves and it was difficult for us to climb back out of it."

The team will now await their seeding in the NCAA Tournament which will be announced at 6 p.m. this evening. Hamilton hopes that his team doesn't allow the excitement of ending a 11-year tournament drought to erase the pain of today's loss.

"I hope that doesn't wipe away the disappointment [of today]," Hamilton said. "It's important to feel the pain. I think that it's positive when youngsters can be disappointing. The most important thing is how we're going to respond to it. We've been consistent in the way we've responded all year."

ACC All-Tournament Team

First Team

Jon Scheyer, Duke (MVP)
Gerald Henderson, Duke
Tyler Hansbrough, North Carolina
Kyle Singler, Duke
Toney Douglas, Florida State

Second Team

Eric Hayes, Maryland
Solomon Alabi, Florida State
Wayne Ellington, North Carolina
Lewis Clinch, Georgia Tech
Greivis Vasquez, Maryland

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