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Florida State shuts down Notre Dame

Mar 21, 2011 - 5:24 AM Chicago, IL (Sports Network) - Bernard James totaled 14 points and 10 rebounds, and 10th-seeded Florida State put the clamps on second-seeded Notre Dame to win a surprisingly lopsided 71-57 decision in third-round Southwest Regional action of the NCAA Tournament.

The Seminoles (23-10) advanced to the Sweet 16 for the first time since 1993 and were never seriously challenged in doing so after holding the Fighting Irish to 23 points in the first half.

In the regional semifinals in San Antonio, FSU will meet another double-digit seed in No. 11 VCU, which knocked off Purdue earlier Sunday at United Center.

Michael Snaer scored 13 points, while Derwin Kitchen and Okaro White each chipped in 10 in the victory.

"I thought we had a good balance, and that was just the players staying focused, sticking with the game plan, and encouraging and communicating with each other the entire game," FSU head coach Leonard Hamilton said. "Hopefully, this is just the beginning of something special."

Tim Abromaitis ended with 21 points for Notre Dame (27-7), which had won 13 of 15 coming in. Big East Player of the Year Ben Hansbrough scored 18 points but made just 5-of-13 from the field before fouling out late in the game.

Notre Dame shot 31 percent from the field, 15 percent lower than its season average. And it did so with Florida State resting Atlantic Coast Conference Defensive Player of the Year Chris Singleton, who played just 10 minutes as he continues to recover from a foot injury.

Defense also carried the Seminoles to a 57-50 win over Texas A&M in the second round on Friday. But while their length and pressure on the defensive side gets most of the accolades, their offense drained seven of their nine three- pointers in the opening 20 minutes to spark the upset.

They hit four during a 16-2 spurt in the first half, with Luke Loucks' triple yielding a 23-11 cushion with under nine minutes remaining.

"I think we executed pretty well tonight, catching the ball and kicking out when they covered down. Our guys were getting spot up threes. They're pretty good at knocking those down," James said.

The Irish, meanwhile, were forcing contested shots and couldn't get into a rhythm, hitting just 1-of-10 from long range on the way to a 34-23 deficit at the break.

The second half started off similarly, with FSU scoring 11 of the first 14 points for a 19-point advantage. White scored the final five points of the run, finishing it with a tip-in 4 1/2 minutes in.

Notre Dame made one last push, scoring 11 straight points to get within 52-40 on two Abromaitis free throws with 8:36 to play.

That was as close as it got though, as the Seminoles extended the lead at the free throw line to win going away.

"Florida State flat-out beat us. The combination of their defense in the first half and their seven three-point shots put us on our heels," Notre Dame head coach Mike Brey said. "I thought we had some great looks at times that we didn't make ... We're kind of numb because we invested so much. It just comes to such a screeching halt."

Game Notes

James, who also had three of the Seminoles' nine blocks, received several IVs on Sunday after becoming ill Saturday night, Hamilton revealed after the game...FSU, which advanced to the Sweet 16 for the fourth time in school history, improved to 14-12 in the NCAAs...The Irish, whose last trip to the second weekend of the tourney came in 2003, fell to 31-35 in the event...Notre Dame beat Akron, 69-56, on Friday...Carleton Scott and Scott Martin, who combined to average 21 points coming in, totaled four points on 1-of-14 shooting for the Irish...FSU shot 46 percent from the field and made 18-of-25 free throws...The other regional semifinal matchup in the Southwest bracket pits top-seeded Kansas against No. 12 Richmond.