SUNRISE, Fla. — The major obstacles in the way of the University of Massachusetts preserving its undefeated record on Saturday were the long arms of Florida State’s Boris Bojanovsky.
The 7-foot-3-inch, 240-pound sophomore recorded seven blocks as the 22d-ranked Minutemen fell, 60-55, in the Orange Bowl Classic.
“The game actually played in their favor because of their size,” UMass coach Derek Kellogg said. “I didn’t think their 7-footers could run with us so when it got into the halfcourt and they get the game a little more physical than usual, I think that helped them.”
Bojanovsky played just 16 minutes but he got the most out of them. He was in for the final minutes, when he notched three blocks. He got a hand on Cady Lalanne’s close-range shot with three seconds left and UMass (10-1) down by 3. The ball went in, but the basket was waved off for Lalanne hanging on the rim. Lalanne said he thought a foul would be called, but Kellogg contended it was a shot that needed to be made regardless.
“It was a physical game throughout,” Kellogg said. “Could he have gotten hit? Sure, but we have to put that in.”
UMass struggled to get good looks because of FSU’s size.
“Just off the top of my head I remember 14-16 layups that we missed that was attributed to their size,” Kellogg said. “I thought their size probably contributed to 16-18 points that normally we would finish.”
The game featured numerous lead changes before Aaron Thomas sealed the win with a pair of free throws with 2.1 seconds left.
The Seminoles (8-3) finished with 12 blocks, costing UMass some valuable points.
“They were big and long and did a nice job of guarding the paint,” Kellogg said.
UMass’s offensive struggles produced some glaring stats: 1 of 15 from 3-point range, 33 percent from the field (20 of 60), and 14 of 24 from the free throw line.
FSU was also able to limit the effectiveness of 5-9 point guard Chaz Williams, who finished with 10 points and three assists, well below his 16.3-point, 7.9-assist averages entering the game.
Lalanne had the most productive game for the Minutemen with 10 points, 15 rebounds, and 4 blocks. Derek Gordon led UMass with 12 points.
“I’m not sure I’ve seen a team shoot 1 of 15 from the three and win a game; I’m not even sure if that’s possible,” Kellogg said. “The other stuff I thought we did well. We defended them, turned them over. We did some good stuff, we just didn’t put together a full game.”
FSU was held to 37 percent from the field and 1 of 7 from deep. Both teams finished with 17 turnovers.
“I thought we both defended each other,” Florida State coach Leonard Hamilton said. “They threw us off our rhythm, we threw them off their rhythm. It was just one of those grinding games you hope you can pull off and that’s what happened.”
Thomas led the Seminoles with 18 points and Okaro White added 10.
Kellogg was confident his players would get back on track once they return from Christmas break.
“We’re 10-1, we’re going to go home for Christmas, spend some time with our families and come back and try to restart another run,” Kellogg said. “Hopefully our guys will recommit to what we’re trying to do here.”