BUFFALO, N.Y. — In his four seasons at Gonzaga, Matt Bouldin knows what it takes to come through in the clutch.
Bouldin's composure — and the 14 points he scored in the second half — was more than Florida State (22-10) could handle, as the Seminoles' rally from an 18-point deficit fell short 67-60 Friday in the first round of the NCAA Tournament West Region.
Bouldin scored 17 and had a key defensive rebound in the final 90 seconds for the Bulldogs.
"We play in so many big games like that all across the country that they're essentially NCAA Tournament games really," Bouldin said. "But after the game, I'm not really thinking about all those other games we had. I'm just really happy about this victory."
Steven Gray scored 15 and Robert Sacre added 13 points and nine rebounds for the 'Zags, in their 12th straight tournament and 13th overall. The West Coast Conference champions advanced to Sunday's second round and face top seed Syracuse, a 79-56 winner over Vermont.
Deividas Dulkys scored 14 and Solomon Alabi had 13 for the No. 9 seed Seminoles, who still have a way to go in their quest to be considered a basketball power. At least they made things competitive.
"We played Florida State basketball in the second half," Seminoles forward Chris Singleton said. "Our defense turned up. They weren't getting as easy looks as they were. … We're headed there."
Opening the second half down 35-19, Florida State started chipping away and finally got the fans on their feet after Alabi hit two free throws to make it 51-44 with 6:37 left.
The Seminoles eventually cut the deficit to 59-54 with 2:21 left when Dulkys banked in a 3-pointer. They had a chance to pull closer but Michael Snaer missed two free throws a minute later.
Bouldin pulled down the rebound and the Bulldogs (27-6) made 8-of-10 free throws to close out the victory.
"We had nowhere to go but up. We were down in a big hole and we just had to do something," Dulkys said. "I really thought we had a chance."
Though disappointed with the loss, Seminoles coach Leonard Hamilton hoped his players can learn from this experience by how composed the Bulldogs were with the game on the line.
"I told our players that we have moved. We have elevated our status. And you can use programs like (Gonzaga) as an example," Hamilton said. "They are a team that has tremendous amount of courage. … They've gotten the most out of their talent, and they ought to be commended for that."
The Bulldogs' high level of talent was certainly on display with a near-perfect first-half when they picked apart the Seminoles' vaunted defense.
After giving up the first basket, Gonzaga opened a 24-9 lead before the game was 12 minutes old and never trailed again.
The Bulldogs were so efficient that by the time they opened a 17-7 lead, every Gonzaga starter had at least one basket.
Gonzaga frustrated the Seminoles at both ends of the court, while their offense patiently worked the ball around to tire Florida State's defense. By the time FSU made its way into the offensive end, it was forced into taking poor shots or — by the time the game appeared to be getting out of hand — awkward 3-pointers. Forward Ryan Reid missed all seven attempts in the first half.
The Bulldogs went 21-of-42 from the field to end the Seminoles' string at 67 games of holding opponents to under 50 percent. They also outrebounded Florida State 38-32.
Florida State closed its season losing eight of 17, including a 58-52 defeat on March 12 to No. 11 seed North Carolina State in the ACC tournament quarterfinals. Reid, a senior, had a tough college finale, shooting 0-for-8 for the game with his only two points coming on free throws.