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Virginia falls apart late as turnovers are too much in 54-50 loss to Florida State

Clark struggles with nine turnovers in the loss.

NCAA Basketball: Virginia at Florida State Melina Myers-USA TODAY Sports

Stop me if you’ve heard this before this season, but the Virginia Cavaliers’ inexperience and inability to hold on to the ball led to an ACC loss. This time, the Hoos were unable to notch an upset at No. 9 Florida State, falling 54-50 on the road. Virginia turned the ball over 18 times times, leading to 18 points for the Seminoles.

Virginia whiffed on a huge opportunity for a resume building road win, giving them only a handful of chances remaining this season (vs. Duke, Louisville x2, and FSU).

Kihei Clark had a rough day, turning the ball over nine times, including one with 40 seconds left that led to the back-breaking three from FSU. Mamadi Diakite led Virginia with 16 points and added six rebounds, two blocks, two steals, and three turnovers.

If the turnovers weren’t bad enough, the Cavaliers continued to struggle behind the arc as Virginia went 3-for-15 (20%) for the game. Tomas Woldetensae made all three threes for the Hoos.

Virginia actually shot well for the game, going 46% from the field and 70% from two. In Virginia’s last four losses this season, the Cavaliers have mounted a comeback but faltered late. The Hoos are now 11-5 on the season (3-3 ACC), and are on their longest losing streak since losing four straight in February of 2017.

Defensively, Virginia did enough against the Noles as FSU shot 37% from the field and turned the ball over 16 times. Devin Vassell led Florida State with 18 points, including the game sealing three. Anthony Polite added 14 points and went a perfect 4-for-4 from three.

Vassell opened with a three from the corner to put the Seminoles on the board first, but Diakite answered with an easy two on the other end. Forrest pushed the advantage to 6-2 with a made bucket and the free throw thanks to the first called foul on Diakite. After a turnover, FSU immediately built its lead to 11-2 with another three and a pull up jumper just outside the lane.

Key took one in the lane to cut the deficit back to seven, but was called for a block (despite having position before being bowled over by Gray). He would make 1-of-2 at the line, giving FSU a 12-4 lead with 16:46 left in the first half. Another nice take from Key cut the lead in half, and Morsell drove the lane after following his own make to pull within four.

Clark made it 12-10 as the Hoos continued a 6-0 run, but cooled off as they settled for outside shots and committed a couple turnovers. Luckily for the Cavaliers, Florida State also went cold. Diakite would tie the game at 12 with 10:47 left in the half, and then put Virginia ahead by two 1:16 later.

Florida State ended a 7:42 scoring drought with a bucket from Polite, but Huff finished a dish from Clark to put the Hoos back in front. Another layup from Key was answered with an easy dunk, and Virginia responded with a transition dunk from Huff to knot things at 20. Morsell and Clark scored on back-to-back layups to put Virginia up by four, but a Diakite turnover led to a three in transition from FSU to cut the Cavaliers’ lead to one.

Vassell emphatically put the Noles back in front with a dunk, and five straight turnovers from Virginia gave the home team a chance to build the lead again. Polite put FSU back on top by four, 28-24, with just over a minute left to play in the first half. Stattmann joined the turnover party, giving the ball up for the 11th time in the half and the sixth straight possession.

A three from Polite canned a three as the clock expired for the first half, sending the Hoos into the break trailing 31-24. Florida State finished the half on an 11-0 run as Virginia ended it with six straight turnovers. Polite and Vassell led FSU with 11 points apiece, and Polite was a perfect 3-for-3 from beyond the arc. For the half, Florida State shot 43% from the field and went 5-for-12 (42%) from three.

Virginia had one of its better offensive halves of the season as they shot 48% from the floor despite going 0-for-8 from three. The Hoos outscored FSU in the paint 20-10, but the turnovers cost them big time as the Noles turned Virginia’s 11 turnovers into 13 points. The Cavaliers got a balanced scoring effort in the first half with Key and Diakite scoring six points apiece, and Morsell, Clark, and Huff adding four points each.

Key pulled the Hoos within five to open the second half thanks to a gorgeous pass from Morsell, but MJ Walker answered with his first bucket of the game to return the FSU advantage to seven. A nice move in the paint got Diakite open for a layup, and the Virginia defense held the Noles to two straight empty trips offensively. Diakite made one at the line to make it 33-29, missing the second despite a second opportunity after a lane violation from FSU.

Clark found Diakite for another easy bucket in the paint, cutting the deficit to two points with just over three minutes gone in the second half. Vassell connected on a pull up jumper in transition to make it 35-31, but Virginia couldn’t cut into the lead as Clark missed a layup and turned it over.

Woldetensae hit Virginia’s first triple with a deep shot that banked off the glass that made it 35-34 with 13:48 to play. Great defense from Diakite forced a turnover, and Key tied the game at the free throw line on the ensuing fast break.

Virginia re-took the lead with a pull-up jumper in transition from Clark, but Patrick Williams returned the favor on the other end to tie the game once more. Clark was called for a carry, and Walker put the Noles back in front with another three. Two free throws from Diakite made it 40-39, and Williams finished a follow dunk to push FSU’s lead to three with just over nine minutes remaining.

Osborne hit a long two with two seconds left on the shot clock to put the Noles up five, but Woldetensae answered with another three to make it 44-42. Diakite got another one to go under the bucket, tying things up for the seventh time in the game with just over six minutes to play.

Clark put the Hoos on top with 5:23 left in the game, 46-44. Virginia caught a break as Vassell’s layup rolled off the rim, but the Hoos couldn’t take advantage as Key’s three missed everything as the shot clock buzzed. Clark’s seventh turnover of the game led to a fast break for the Noles, but Woldetensae fouled to save a bucket. Diakite’s second block of the game ended the threat from FSU, and he corralled a miss from Clark to draw a foul and go to the line. He made one of two, putting the Hoos up three with 3:11 remaining.

Key’s shot down low was blocked, and Polite tied things up at 47-47 on the next possession. A horrific call against Clark on the baseline gave Florida State the ball, and Forrest made two at the line to give the Noles a two point advantage with 90 seconds left.

A terrible sequence followed as Virginia was called for a 10-second call and gave it right back to FSU. Another foul against Diakite sent Forrest back to the line, but he missed the front end of the 1-and-1. Clark’s ninth turnover of the game led to the a-breaking three from Vassell before Woldetensae hit his third three of the half to keep it within reach with 5.7 seconds left.

Vassell made both free throws to make it a 4-point lead with 4.1 seconds left, handing the Hoos their third straight loss.

Next up, Virginia heads to Georgia Tech on Saturday.