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Benji Bell answers the call for FSU; USF falls to NC State

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During this season, Florida State has enjoyed success when their freshman tandem of Dwayne Bacon and Malik Beasley are putting up big numbers on the stat sheet. On Sunday, Bacon had a rare off-night scoring, but the Seminoles went on to roll over Southeastern Louisiana, 75-58.

A Seminole reserve, Benji Bell, more than made up for Bacon’s sub-par game with 18 points off the bench. Bell made five of his six shots, including all four of his 3-point attempts.

Xavier Rathan-Mayes dished out 11 assists to go along with 7 points that enabled his teammates to be involved. Of FSU’s 23 field goals, 17 came with assists.

Beasley finished with 16 points. Bacon had his lowest output as a Seminole, scoring only two.

Florida State could manage only 6 points in the first eight minutes and trailed by 6. Bell then scored 8 points over the next two minutes and FSU held the Lions to 6 points over the final 11:44 to take a 29-22 halftime lead.

After taking a 17-point lead with under 10 minutes remaining, Southeast Louisiana cut it to 55-48 with 7:08 remaining. It was Bell to the rescue again, making two more 3-pointers within a minute to restore order. FSU ended the game on a 20-10 run.

“Benji came in, gave us a good lift,” said FSU Coach Leonard Hamilton. “He’s not hesitant. He’s not thinking, he’s reacting. And I think that’s why he was able to contribute as well as he did today.”

Joshua Fillmore led the Lions with 19 points. Both teams shot 42 percent from the field.

Florida State (6-2) hosts the Mississippi State Bulldogs at 9 p.m. Wednesday.

North Carolina State 65, South Florida 46

When looking at the stat sheet, all of the numbers seem to describe a North Carolina State loss. They shot 37 percent against the USF Bulls, including 14 percent on three-point attempts. The missed nine of 21 free throws.

It did not matter against South Florida, because the Bulls shot only 30 percent themselves and were out-rebounded 51-41, leading to second chance points. The Wolfpack built a 20-point halftime lead and cruised to a 65-46 victory over USF.

NC State moved to a 17-10 lead midway through the first half, then held the Bulls without a basket for eight minutes, extending the margin to 30-13. USF trailed at half, 35-15.

The Bulls did not crack the 20-point barrier until 11:49 remained in the game and NC State leading 44-21. The Wolfpack’s biggest lead was 28 points, 53-25, with 7:40 remaining.

Jahmal McMurray got hot at the end and led USF in scoring with 13 points. Nehemias Morillo added 10 points, while Jaleel Cousins added 8. Cousins came off the bench for only the second time this season.

“I think our effort was solid,” said USF Coach Orlando Antigua. “I thought we were reactionary in the first half to their physical (style) on the boards. But I thought our kids continued to battle and continued to compete on the defensive side.”

Anthony Barber led the Wolfpack in scoring with 19 points while Anya BeeJay chipped in with 17. Abdul-Malik Abu had a double-double with 11 points and 14 rebounds.

USF (2-8) welcomes the Jacksonville Dolphins to the Sun Dome at 7 p.m. Wednesday.

Bob Sparks is President of Ramos and Sparks Group, a Tallahassee-based business and political consulting firm. During his career, he has directed media relations and managed events for professional baseball, served as chief spokesperson for the Republican Party of Florida as well as the Florida Department of Environmental Protection and the Attorney General of Florida. After serving as Executive Deputy Chief of Staff for Governor Charlie Crist, he returned to the private sector working with clients including the Republican National Committee and political candidates in Japan. He lives in Tallahassee with his wife, Sue and can be reached at Bob@ramos-sparks.com.

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