FGCU Downs ETSU, 72-63, A-Sun Opener
|Florida Gulf Coast||36||36||72|
|Stats at a Glance||ETSU||FGCU|
|FG Percentage||.349 (22-63)||.540 (27-50)|
|3P FG Percentage||.313 (5-16)||.400 (8-20)|
|FT Percentage||.700 (14-20)||.625 (10-16)|
BROWN - 1
MURRAY - 1
CANTINOL - 1
FORT MYERS, Fla. – Junior Sherwood Brown (Orlando, Fla./Olympia HS) scored a game-high 20 points and the FGCU men’s basketball team led for the final 37 minutes en route to a 72-63 win over ETSU in its Atlantic Sun Conference opener on Saturday at Alico Arena.
The Eagles jumped out to an eight-point lead at the half and held on to win their A-Sun opener for the third time in five years. FGCU’s win snapped a five-game losing streak against the Buccaneers and improved its record to 3-5. ETSU has now dropped three straight, falling to 3-4 overall and 0-2 in the A-Sun.
Led by Brown’s 7-for-10 night from the field, FGCU shot 54 percent (27-50) from the floor, marking the third time this season it has shot over 50 percent in a game. On the flipside, the Eagles won the turnover battle, 16-14, and limited ETSU to a 35 percent (22-63) shooting clip.
The 20-point game was the second of Brown’s career and he was joined in double figures by sophomore Chase Fieler (Parkersburg, W. Va./Parkersburg South HS), who had 12 points. A majority of Brown’s 20 points came beyond the arc, knocking down 4-of-5 from deep. Fieler’s 12 points were joined by a team-high eight rebounds and four assists.
ETSU used a rotation of just seven players with three of them reaching double figures led by senior Adam Sollazzo’s 17 points, seven rebounds, six assists and three steals. Senior guard Tommy Hubbard notched a double-double with 15 points and 11 rebounds.
FGCU’s bench came into the game averaging 30 points per game, but was limited to a season-low 17. On the bright side, freshman Brett Comer (Winter Park, Fla./Winter Park HS) came off the pine and dished out 10 assists for the second time this season. Sophomore Christophe Varidel (Versoix, Switzerland/Worcester Academy) accounted for nine of the bench points, drilling 3-of-6 from long range. Varidel is 19-of-37 from long range on the year.
After three lead changes in the opening two minutes, FGCU created the first multi-possession advantage and a lead it wouldn’t relinquish for the rest of the half thanks to a 9-0 run that made it 12-4. Brown got the run going with a three followed by four straight points from Fieler and capped with a steal and layup from freshman Bernard Thompson (Conyers, Ga./Rockdale County HS).
Still holding a 24-18 lead with 7:55 on the clock, the Eagles took their biggest lead of the game (14), 34-20, on a dunk from Brown that capped a 10-2 spurt and forced the Buccaneers to call their second timeout of the half. FGCU knocked down 5-of-6 from the floor during the run that absorbed 2:44, including four more points each from Brown and Fieler.
ETSU was able to trim the deficit to single digits before the half thanks to scoring eight of the final 10 points of the period to trail the Eagles 36-28 at the break. FGCU was able to overcome giving up 11 offensive rebounds in the opening 20 minutes by shooting 58 percent (15-26) from the field.
The Green and Blue’s lead grew to as large as 12, 51-39, with 13:12 to go in the game, but ETSU refused to go away. Behind seven straight points from Sallazzo, the Buccaneers turned a 56-47 FGCU lead into a 59-57 deficit with 5:16 left.
It remained a one-possession game heading into the final minute, but the Eagles closed with the contest’s final six points for the nine-point victory, FGCU’s fifth A-Sun win in its last six games dating back to last year.
Freshman Dante Holmes (Baltimore, Md./St. Frances Academy/Oldsmar Christian) made his second straight start, scoring nine points, while redshirt junior Eddie Murray (Fort Myers, Fla./Bishop Verot HS) and Thompson each had seven.
FGCU is back in action when it returns to non-conference play with a trip to Big Ten foe Nebraska on Wednesday night. Gametime at the Devaney Center is slated for 8 p.m. ET and all the action can be seen live on www.BTN.com (Big Ten Network).
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