Virginia Commonwealth guard Melvin Johnson’s career-high 36 points wasn’t enough to sink Florida State on Sunday as the Seminoles held off the Rams, 76-71 at Philips Arena.
Florida State (5-2) led by as many as 14 in the first half and took a 40-29 lead into the locker room, but the Rams moved to and stayed within striking distance for the rest of the contest. The lone lead of the second half for VCU (5-3) came on a Johnson 3-pointer with just over six minutes remaining.
With the Rams up 60-59, FSU responded with an 11-3 run. Xavier Rathan-Mayes, who led the Seminoles with 23 points, put Florida State ahead for good with a trey with about four minutes remaining. Leading 72-71 with under 30 seconds to play, Rathan-Mayes came up with a timely steal to stop the Rams from potentially going ahead.
The steal led to a dunk by Terance Mann on the other end to make it 74-71. Johnson’s potential tying 3-pointer on the ensuing possession with 14 seconds to play was no good and Rathan-Mayes cemented the victory with a pair of free throws with six seconds left.
In addition to his 23 points, Rathan-Mayes led the Seminoles with 7 rebounds. Rathan-Mayes also was one of three Seminoles to come up with three steals along with senior center Boris Bojanovsky and freshman guard Malik Beasley. Rathan-Mayes and Benji Bell each topped the Seminoles with 4 assists.
Beasley and fellow freshman guard Dwayne Bacon were the only other two FSU players to score in double-figures with 10 points apiece. Mann, also a freshman, came up with 9 points and five boards off the bench. Bojanovsky blocked a game-high 6 shots.
To complement Johnson, Korey Billbury and Mo Alie-Cox scored 11 and 10 points respectively for Virginia Commonwealth. The Rams shot 10-for-19 from deep to stay in the game with eight of the makes coming from Johnson. VCU however, got just four points from its bench.
The Seminoles will have a week off before playing their first home game in nearly a month next Sunday against Southeastern Louisiana. Virginia Commonwealth won’t return to action until December 15th when it visits Georgia Tech.