Florida State appeared as if it was headed for consecutive losses for the first time since January 2019 until M.J. Walker came to the rescue.
The junior rallied the seventh-ranked Seminoles back from a 13-point deficit with 10 minutes remaining at Notre Dame on Wednesday night. He scored 13 straight points for Florida State as part of a 15-2 run that tied the game.
The Seminoles (25-5, 15-4 ACC) closed the game on a 25-10 run, completing the stirring comeback win on a layup by senior point guard Trent Forrest off his own miss with 3.8 seconds left.
“This game allowed us to, I thought, grow up a little bit tonight,” Florida State coach Leonard Hamilton said. “I thought our guys maintained their poise, we didn’t really panic. We were disappointed that we could not do a better job defending, but with about 10 minutes to go, I thought our guys really, really started defending a lot better.”
The victory means Florida State can play for a regular-season ACC Championship — the first in program history — when it hosts Boston College (13-17, 7-12) on Saturday.
The Seminoles are 15-0 this season at the Donald L. Tucker Center at Tallahassee, Fla.
“We’re gonna make sure that we make this weekend one to remember,” said Walker, who scored only five points in the first 30 minutes against the Fighting Irish before scoring 16 points in the final 10 minutes to finish with a game-high 21 points.
Boston College is coming off an 84-71 loss Tuesday at home against Syracuse despite making a program-record 19 shots from 3-point range.
Derryck Thornton, a graduate transfer who played previously at Duke and USC, led Boston College with 18 points. He made a career-best six 3-pointers, finishing 6 of 10 from beyond the arc. He added four assists, two rebounds, and a steal before fouling out in 31 minutes.
Jay Heath made five 3-pointers, making him just the third Boston College freshman in program history with at least 60 3-pointers.
The Eagles suffered their fourth straight ACC loss in the home finale.
Starting center Nick Popovic (back), power forward Jairus Hamilton (knee) and sixth man Jared Hamilton (ankle) were scratched from the rotation before the game. They account for 27.9 points and 11.9 rebounds per game. Their availability against Florida State is uncertain.
“You can’t regroup health,” Boston College coach Jim Christian said. “Jairus has knee tendonitis, and he practiced two days put couldn’t play today, and Jared has had an ankle and Achilles for a month, and some days he just can’t do it.
“He has a tough time practicing, a tough time playing, and Niko has his back problem.”
Boston College went only 2 of 10 from the free throw line and had 18 turnovers against the Orange.
“When they play us, because we are an inconsistent shooting team, they don’t bump and stay far outside daring you to shoot it,” Christian said of the 19 made 3-pointers. “We had to make some of those to get the ball where we wanted, and I thought we executed very well offensively minus the turnovers.”
–Field Level Media