Aaron Thomas tallied 21 points and nine rebounds as the Florida State Seminoles downed the Louisiana Tech Bulldogs, 78-75, in the quarterfinals of the NIT at the Donald L. Tucker Center.
Okaro White added 20 points and eight boards for FSU (22-13), which will advance to the semifinals at Madison Square Garden to face Southern Miss. Devon Bookert chipped in 11 points and Montay Brandon netted 10 points in the win.
The Bulldogs (29-8) came up short of their 30th win of the campaign despite a sensational performance by Kenneth Smith, who posted 16 points, 14 rebounds and six assists. Cordarius Johnson scored 11 points, while Michale Kyser and Kenyon McNeail finished with 10 points apiece.
The Seminoles took a 37-33 lead into the intermission after they shot 38.7 percent from the floor and converted 9-of-11 attempts at the free-throw line in the opening stanza. LA Tech was limited to 32.3 percent efficiency from the field in the first half.
FSU heated up to sink 51.9 percent of its field goal tries in the second half, but found itself trailing, 58-52, with just under 11 minutes left in regulation. The Seminoles scored the next seven points to go in front by one point and led for the final 7:21 of the contest. The Bulldogs had possession in the closing seconds, but Raheem Appleby missed a 3-pointer that would have evened the score and Brandon came down with the rebound to deny LA Tech another chance of tying the score.
FSU finished with a 43-36 edge in total rebounds. The Bulldogs went just 7- of-25 from beyond the arc in the contest.