For the first time since 2013, Michigan basketball is moving on to the Final Four in the NCAA Tournament. The Wolverines defeated No. 9-seeded Florida State 58-54 on Saturday night to punch their ticket to San Antonio.
However, the game ended a little faster than anticipated. Michigan, who held a four-point lead, rebounded a missed 3-point attempt from PJ Savoy with roughly 13 seconds left in the game. While most teams trailing in this situation would foul to stop the clock, the Seminoles allowed Michigan to dribble out the clock.
The decision to not foul was a real head-scratcher to many, as Michigan’s free throw woes have been well documented.
After the game, Dana Jacobson met with Florida State coach Leonard Hamilton, and her first question was why his team did not foul at the end of the game.
Hamilton was not happy about the question.
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Hamilton gave Jacobson a confused look and asked her what she was “talking about.” Jacobson reworded her question, but Hamilton cut her off.
“You think that the game came down to the final seconds of the game?” he asked Jacobson.
Jacobson clarified that she meant the decision not to foul. Hamilton responded: “The game was over.”
Again, Jacobson stayed firm and asked Hamilton if he didn’t think his team could get back in the game by fouling late, and Hamilton responded, “You mean with 15 seconds on the clock? What were we down?”
“Put them on the line, they miss a few shots,” Jacobsen responded. After this, Hamilton began to turn away and looked as though he was going to walk away from the interview. He stayed, however, and turned back toward Jacobson.
Jacobson then added that is was a “four-point ball game” before mentioning that “it was a question the guys were asking at the end of our game.” Hamilton didn’t answer and just looked at Jacobson, who finally got something out of the coach when she asked: “It didn’t come down to that in your mind?”
Hamilton went on to give credit to Michigan for winning the game, but never really answered why his team didn’t foul down the stretch.
“I just want to give [Michigan] the credit,” Hamilton said. “I thought our kids fought really hard, they had a great year. In the latter part of the game there, we were trying to get a foul on three of their kids. A couple of their guys were 75-80 percent free-throw shooters. The guys we wanted to foul, the opportunity wasn’t there. But that doesn’t have anything to do with the outstanding job Michigan did.”
For whatever reason, it appears as though Hamilton did not want to talk about the final seconds of the game. Sure, while those seconds will not define the great season the Seminoles put together, Florida State fans may always wonder what would have happened had they opted to foul.