Belmont Uses Balance and Big Second Half to Down FGCU
|Florida Gulf Coast||32||31||63|
|Stats at a Glance||BEL||FGCU|
|FG Percentage||.500 (30-60)||.379 (22-58)|
|3P FG Percentage||.385 (10-26)||.286 (6-21)|
|FT Percentage||.800 (16-20)||.591 (13-22)|
JENKINS - 5
BROWN - 6
MANN - 7
JOHNSON - 1
MOBLEY - 1
CLARK - 1
SAUNDERS - 1
HEDGEPETH - 1
THOMPSON - 1
BROWN - 1
HEDGEPETH - 1
BAKER - 1
BROWN - 2
FORT MYERS, Fla. – A 12-0 Belmont run that stretched from the end of the first half into the opening four minutes of the second half highlighted a strong final 20 minutes for the Bruins, as the FGCU men’s basketball team fell, 86-63, on Saturday night in front of an Alico Arena crowd of 3,007 fans.
The Eagles, who are just a win or a Jacksonville loss away from clinching their first-ever Atlantic Sun Tournament berth, drop to 12-13 on the season while their conference mark evens at 7-7, good for a tie for sixth place in the league standings. Belmont (19-7), who has now won six straight, is a half-game out of first place in the A-Sun at 11-2.
“I thought we played well in the first half,” said head coach Andy Enfield. “We shared the ball, pushed it up the floor and were right in the game heading into the locker room, but you have to play well for 40 minutes to beat a team like Belmont.”
All 11 of sophomore Christophe Varidel’s (Versoix, Switzerland/Worcester Academy) points came in the first half on 3-of-7 from long range. Junior Sherwood Brown (Orlando, Fla./Olympia HS) reached double figures for the seventh straight game with 10 points and six boards, while Dante Holmes (Baltimore, Md./St. Frances/Oldsmar Christian) made it 22 games that a freshman has scored in double figures for the Eagles with 10 off the bench.
Six players reached double figures for Belmont, a feat FGCU accomplished earlier in the year in a win over Longwood and up until tonight was the only A-Sun team do so. Junior Ian Clark poured in a game-high 17 points on five three-pointers and dished out six assists with no turnovers.
As a team, Belmont finished with 24 assists on its 30 field goals, led by a combined 20 assists and two turnovers from the combo of Clark, JJ Mann and Kerron Johnson. The difference in the game was the Bruins’ 50 percent (30-60) shooting night from the field and their ability to turn just 12 FGCU turnovers into 17 points. On the flipside, the Eagles shot 38 percent (22-58) and only had two points off turnovers due to Belmont committing just seven miscues.
FGCU jumped out to an early 8-4 lead following Varidel’s first of three trifectas in the opening half, but the Bruins fought right back behind the red hot shooting of Clark. After back-to-back threes by Clark tied the game at 10-10, the teams traded baskets the next four trips up and down the floor until the Bruins took the lead for good following a 6-0 run.
Trailing by 25-17, FGCU cut the deficit to one with 7:36 left in the first half following Varidel’s final three of the game, capping a 7-0 run for the home team that made it 25-24.
The Eagles clawed to within one two more times in the half, both after big dunks from Fort Myers product Eddie Murray (Fort Myers, Fla./Bishop Verot HS) with the last coming with under three minutes to play and the score 31-30.
After the Eagles pulled to within two, 34-32, the Bruins scored the final four points of the first frame and the first eight of the second half to build a 46-32 edge. The opening four minutes of the second stanza were unkind to the Eagles, as they missed their first seven shots.
Belmont never relinquished its double-digit lead over the final 18:52 of the game en route to its fourth straight win in the series.
FGCU will now turn its attention to a critical A-Sun showdown with Lipscomb (12-13) on Monday night at Alico Arena. The Bison sit a half-game ahead of the Eagles in fourth place at 7-6 and are coming off a 99-91 overtime win at Stetson Saturday afternoon. Gametime on Monday is slated for 7:05 p.m.
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