Fieler Explodes, Offense Finds Rhythm In #DunkCity Win Tuesday A.M. On National TV
Tuesday, November 12, 2013 | by Jason MacBain (@JaBain)
Fieler set a program D-I record with 13 field goals made as he shattered his previous career high of 22 points on 13-of-17 shooting. (Credit: Linwood Ferguson)
Fieler set a program D-I record with 13 field goals made as he shattered his previous career high of 22 points on 13-of-17 shooting. (Credit: Linwood Ferguson)
Hartford (0-2)
FGCU (1-1)
11/12/2013 | Alico Arena (Fort Myers, FL) | Attendance: 4525
Stats at a GlanceHARTFORDFGCU
FG Percentage.412 (21-51) .509 (27-53)
3P FG Percentage.174 (4-23) .308 (4-13)
FT Percentage.417 (5-12) .583 (7-12)
Offensive Rebounds55
Defensive Rebounds2529
Total Rebounds3034
Bench Points159
Statistical LeadersHARTFORDFGCU
PointsMark Nwakamma - 23
ReboundsMark Nwakamma - 10
AssistsMark Nwakamma - 3
StealsYolonzo Moore II - 3
BlocksOren Faulk - 1

DUNK CITY, Fla. – Playing in its first nationally-televised home game in history, the FGCU men’s basketball team (1-1) received a Division-I program record of 30 points from lone senior Chase Fieler and the up-tempo Eagles offense started to finally find its rhythm in the second half as they ran away from Hartford, 65-51, in Tuesday affair at 7 a.m. on ESPN2 as part the network’s 24-Hour Tipoff Marathon.

Fieler (Parkersburg, W. Va./Parkersburg South HS) also set a program D-I record with 13 field goals made as he shattered his previous career high of 22 points on 13-of-17 shooting. The 6-8 forward corralled seven rebounds as he turned in a near-180 from his season opener in which he scored just five points and grabbed one board.

As a team, FGCU shot 51 percent from the floor, including a 61.5-percent clip in the second half, due largely to the Eagles’ first four dunks of the season and 22 points in the paint in the second stanza. Several of those dunks originated from Brett Comer (Winter Park, Fla./Winter Park HS) as the junior, like Fieler, rebounded from a shaky first game to dish out eight assists against no turnovers, scoring nine points along the way.

Comer, who turned the ball over six times in the Green and Blue’s season-opening loss at Nebraska, bounced back for the second-straight season in the second game with an identical performance. Last season, he had six turnovers in the season opener at VCU and then had eight helpers against no giveaways in his next game at Miami.

Playing in front of its second-largest crowd in program history (4,525) and having its 2013 Sweet 16 banner unveiled prior to tipoff, FGCU struggled early as Hartford raced out to a 16-4 lead, including a 12-0 run to break a 4-4 tie. However, the Eagles gradually settled down and later in the half produced a 9-2 run to go from down eight to down one at 22-21. The Hawks – who return 90 percent of their scoring and rebounding from last year – rebutted with a quick 4-0 spurt to go back up five before FGCU tallied the final six points of the stanza to take a 27-26 lead into the halftime break.

The two teams alternated buckets to start the second half, but then Fieler – just as he symbolically did last year – spearheaded a game-changing run with a dunk. The throwdown, off a slip screen at the 15:32 mark, was the first of the year for the Eagles, who used their patented trademark to propel themselves to a 13-2 run over the next four minutes, capped by another Fieler one-handed slam.

That stretch gave the Eagles a 49-37 lead, and the margin eventually swelled to 16, 57-41, at the 6:41 mark following a Jamail Jones (Atlanta, Ga./Montverde Academy/Marquette) rebound and putback. FGCU led by double digits the rest of the way as the Eagles won their home opener for the fourth consecutive year.

“Our fans were great and gave us a lot of support,” said head coach Joe Dooley. “The guys did a good job of getting the ball where we wanted to get it. We still have a long way to go, which is good at this time of the year, but we did some great things.”

While Fieler was in the national spotlight, several other Eagles quietly put together well-rounded games, including eight points and a team-best eight rebounds from Jones who led the team in caroms for the second-straight game. Bernard Thompson (Conyers, Ga./Rockdale County HS) nearly matched the Marquette transfer with seven points and seven rebounds, while Dajuan Graf (Charlotte, N.C./Phillip O. Berry Academy) came off the bench to score nine points.

FGCU scored 17 points off turnovers compared with four for Hartford as the Eagles took care of the ball on Tuesday morning, committing only eight turnovers while issuing 13 assists. FGCU held the Hawks, who return four starters from a team which won a D-I program record 17 games last year, to 41.2 percent, but shut them down on the perimeter as Hartford went just 17.4 percent (4-23) from 3-point range.

Mark Nwakamma led Hartford (0-2) with a double-double of 23 points and 10 rebounds on 10-of-16 shooting from the floor. The Hawks will fly back to Connecticut on Tuesday afternoon and play at Fairfield Wednesday night.

The win was the first for Dooley as FGCU responded in nearly identical fashion this year to its second game as last season’s second contest. In 2012-13, the Eagles dropped their season opener at VCU by 23 points, 80-57, before rebounding in their next game at home against Miami with a 12-point win, 63-51. On Friday at Nebraska, FGCU began the year with a 24-point loss, 79-54, and bounced back with Tuesday’s 14-point triumph.

FGCU returns to action on Friday at Furman as the Eagles head to South Carolina to battle the Paladins at 6 p.m. It will be the third televised game to start the year for FGCU, which had three total regular-season TV games in program history before this season. The contest will be shown live on Comcast Sports Southeast.

For up-to-the-minute information and behind-the-scenes access to the men’s basketball program, follow @FGCU_MBB on Twitter and Instagram, and “Like” us on Facebook at /FGCUMBB.

2013-14 men’s basketball season tickets are selling quickly, and only a limited amount remain. New this year are mini-plan packages for all games, with the exception of “Breakfast at the Beach,” and individual-game tickets are now on sale. Fans can reserve their seat(s) by visiting the Alico Arena Ticket Office, calling 239-590-7145 or logging on to FGCUAthletics.com/Tickets.