Defense Fuels FGCU to Convincing Win Over Loyola Maryland, 65-50
|Florida Gulf Coast||34||31||65|
|Stats at a Glance||LOY||FGCU|
|FG Percentage||.333 (20-60)||.442 (23-52)|
|3P FG Percentage||.059 (1-17)||.357 (5-14)|
|FT Percentage||.600 (9-15)||.609 (14-23)|
FIELER - 3
COMER - 3
Winbush - 2
Cormier - 2
FORT MYERS, Fla. – Behind a defensive effort that saw FGCU limit Loyola University Maryland to a season-low 50 points, the Eagles improved to 5-0 at home on Saturday night with a convincing win over the MAAC favorite Greyhounds, 65-50, at Alico Arena.
Not only did FGCU limit Loyola to a season-low in points, it also limited the Greyhounds to just 33 percent (20-6) shooting from the field, including 1-of-17 from three-point territory and forced them into 17 turnovers, all of which were season-lows or a season-high.
The Eagles, who haven’t trailed in the last two games, improved to 6-3 with the win and moved into a tie with No. 7 Florida (6-0) for the most wins this season by a Division I team in Florida. Loyola, who was No. 21 in the most recent CollegeInsider.com Mid-Major Poll, saw its six-game win streak come to an end as it slipped to 7-2.
“It was a great defensive effort from everyone. To hold a team that is talented and well coached like Loyola to 50 points, 33 percent shooting and 1-for-17 from the three-point line, I have to give my guys credit,” said head coach Andy Enfield. “Our goal was to defend them and we did.”
A key ingredient to FGCU’s unblemished 5-0 mark at Alico Arena this season has been its ability to force turnovers. Loyola entered the game 36th in the nation averaging less than 12 giveaways per contest, but was forced into 17 giveaways – 13 steals – that led to a 19-6 FGCU edge in points off turnovers and aided in a huge 20-0 advantage in fast break points for the home squad. No team has shot over 33 percent from beyond the arc against the Eagles this season.
Offensively, FGCU was led by the Atlantic Sun’s top scoring tandem of senior Sherwood Brown (Orlando, Fla./Olympia HS) and sophomore Bernard Thompson (Conyers, Ga./Rockdale County HS) who reached double figures in the same game for the seventh time this season. Brown was the catalyst in the first half, scoring 10 of his team-best 14 points, while adding seven rebounds, three assists and two steals. As he’s done all year, Thompson excelled in the second half, going for 11 of his 13 points in the final frame, while equaling a career-high of five steals for the third time this year.
Sophomore point guard Brett Comer (Winter Park, Fla./Winter Park HS) was the final player in double figures with 10 points and one of five players with at least two assists and two steals. The Eagles equaled a season-low with 14 turnovers and registered a season-high 13 steals. For the game, FGCU shot 44 percent (23-52) from the field.
Loyola was led by big man Jordan Latham, who had 14 of his game-high 17 points in the first half. FGCU did a solid job on MAAC Preseason All-Conference second team guard Dylon Cormier, limiting the junior to 12 points – six below his season average – after coming off a career-high 27 against Coppin State.
FGCU jumped out to a 14-6 lead less than five minutes into the contest, hitting six of its first eight shots from the field, including a pair of three-pointers by Brown and Thompson. Comer’s coast-to-coast fast break layup ended the run and forced ninth-year Loyola head coach Jimmy Patsos to call the team’s second timeout.
Thanks to its fast start, the Green and Blue were able to hold the lead for all but 56 seconds in the first half and owned a 34-26 lead at the break. The Eagles, who are now 5-0 when leading at the half, took advantage of eight uncharacteristic Loyola turnovers, which led to an 11-1 edge in points off turnovers and 10-0 advantage in fast break points.
After a quiet first half, Thompson scored the opening four points of the second half and picked up a pair of steals to spark a 10-2 run that gave the Eagles their largest lead of the game at that point (16), at 44-28. FGCU held a double-digit lead for the final 17:33 of the game.
Junior Chase Fieler (Parkersburg, W. Va./Parkersburg South HS) saw his four-game double figure points streak come to an end, but had a solid night of eight points, six rebounds, three assists, two blocks and two steals in 27 minutes.
FGCU will hit the road for the fifth time this season to complete a stretch of 10 games in the opening 26 days of the season when it travels to Big XII foe Iowa State (5-2) on Tuesday night. Tip time at the Hilton Coliseum is slated for 8 p.m. EST with live audio available at www.FGCUATHLETICS.com. Live in-game updates and other news on FGCU men’s hoops can be found on twitter @FGCU_MBB.
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