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Mar 19, 1997

Seminoles March to Madison Square Garden, 76-71

Florida State Earns NIT Semifinals Berth with Win over West Virginia

James Collins scored 24 points to lead Florida State to a 76-71 victory over West Virginia in the quarterfinals of the National Invitation Tournament.

Randell Jackson added 19 points and nine rebounds for Florida State (19-11), which has advanced to the semifinals for the first time and defeated West Virginia for the first time in four all-time meetings.

The Seminoles, who are making their third NIT apppearance, meet the winner of Friday's quarterfinal between Nebraska and Connecticut in the semifinals on Tuesday at Madison Square Garden.

Adrian Pledger scored 18 points and Damian Owens added 13 and six rebounds for West Virginia (21-10), which fell to 14-13 in 13 NIT appearances. The Mountaineers, who shot just 36.5 percent (27-for-74) from the field, finished with their most wins since going 26-5 and reaching the second round of the NCAA Tournament in 1988-89.

LaMarr Greer, who had 10 points, hit a three-pointer to give the Seminoles the lead for good, 65-64, with 4:08 remaining. Collins had a dunk to give Florida State a four-point advantage just over a minute later. Pledger's jumper cut the deficit to 68-66 with 2:30 to go, but Jackson answered with a layup 23 seconds later.

West Virginia got no closer than four points until Owens made a layup to cut the lead to 74-71 with 4.5 seconds left. The Mountaineers fouled Jackson after the inbounds pass and he made both free throws with 2.9 seconds to play for the final margin.

Neither team led by more than five points in the first half and the score was tied, 35-35, on Owens' jumper with 1:29 to go. Brian Lewin made a layup for his only points with 55 seconds left and Pledger had one 22 seconds later as West Virginia took a 39-35 lead at halftime.

Owens sank a baseline jumper to cap an 8-2 spurt and give the Mountaineers their biggest lead, 49-39, with 16:13 left in the second half.

Greer's three-pointer capped a 7-0 burst and pulled the Seminoles within 53-51 with 12:32 left. West Virginia maintained a lead of no more than four points until Greer's three-pointer.

FLORIDA ST (76)
                      fg    ft    rb
               min   m-a   m-a   o-t  a pf   tp
Jackson         36  7-10   4-8   4-9  0  1   19
Greer           36   3-9   2-4   2-6  2  1   10
Luchman         13   1-5   2-2   2-6  0  4    4
K Thompson      38   1-8   0-0   0-5  9  2    2
Collins         36  8-16   6-7   4-5  2  3   24
Louis           31  6-10   2-4   2-7  1  2   14
Hale             6   1-1   0-0   0-0  1  1    2
Deas             4   0-1   1-2   0-1  0  1    1
_______________________________________________
TOTALS         200 27-60 17-27 14-39 15 15   76
_______________________________________________
Percentages: FG-.450, FT-.630. 3-Point Goals:
5-20, .250 (Jackson 1-1, Greer 2-6, K Thompson
0-3, Collins 2-10). Team rebounds: None. Blocked
shots: 5 (Jackson 3, Luchman, Collins).
Turnovers: 13 (Collins 3, Greer 3, Jackson 2, K
Thompson 2, Hale, Louis, Luchman). Steals: 8
(Deas 2, Greer 2, Jackson 2, Hale, K Thompson).
WEST VIRGINIA (71)
                      fg    ft    rb
               min   m-a   m-a   o-t  a pf   tp
Owens           33  6-14   0-1   3-6  2  2   13
Malone          31   3-8   2-3  4-11  1  3    9
Solheim         17   3-5   2-2   2-3  1  3    8
Pledger         34  7-18   4-4   3-4  4  1   18
Jefferson       37  4-18   3-4   0-4  5  3   12
Varejao         20   1-3   1-2   3-6  1  3    3
West            12   0-1   0-0   1-2  1  1    0
Liguori          8   2-4   0-0   0-0  1  2    6
Lewin            6   1-2   0-0   1-2  0  1    2
Jones            2   0-1   0-0   0-0  1  0    0
_______________________________________________
TOTALS         200 27-74 12-16 17-38 17 19   71
_______________________________________________
Percentages: FG-.365, FT-.750. 3-Point Goals:
5-13, .385 (Owens 1-2, Malone 1-1, Jefferson 1-7,
Liguori 2-3). Team rebounds: 9. Blocked shots: 1
(Owens). Turnovers: 13 (Jefferson 3, Varejao 3,
Malone 2, Solheim 2, Jones, Liguori, Owens).
Steals: 7 (Malone 2, Owens 2, Liguori, Pledger,
West).
__________________________________
Florida St         35   41  -   76
West Virginia      39   32  -   71
__________________________________
Technical fouls: None.  A: 10,314. Officials:
Rick Hartzell, Rick Ridenhour, John Fitzsimmons.

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