LAKELAND, Fla. – Senior forward Blake Williams scored a career-high 18 points and grabbed a career-high 15 rebounds and No. 8 Florida Southern College connected on 40-of-55 foul shots to down Florida Gulf Coast University 77-71 in South Region men’s basketball action Saturday night.
The two teams combined for 69 fouls in the game as FGCU (8-6 overall, 6-5 South Region) dropped their third straight game. It’s the first three-game losing streak in the three-year plus history of the FGCU program. The Eagles were whistled for 38 fouls in the game and managed to hit just 24-of-36 free throw opportunities. FGCU also shot a season-low 33% from the floor, including just 3-of-15 (20%) from beyond the three-point arc. The Eagles managed just 10 points in the first 12-plus minutes of the second half.
After a first half that saw the lead change hands 13 times, FGCU held a 36-34 halftime advantage on the strength of 14 points in the paint, including eight points from senior forward Marcus Watts. The Eagles maintained a 39-36 nearly five minutes into the second half before the Mocs went on an 8-2 run to regain the lead 44-41. Junior guard Beau Bauer nailed a 3-pointer to tie the game at 46-46 with 11:19 to play. But the Mocs went on a 9-0 run to take the lead for good at 54-46.
FGCU would later trim the lead to five when Williams came up with an offensive rebound, was fouled, and sank two free throws. The Eagles answered with two free throws on the other end to bring it back to a five-point game with 4:52 remaining. The Moccasins were unable to score on their next possession but another offensive rebound by Williams allowed them to run nearly a minute off the clock.
After senior forward Leon Woodstock made one-of-two foul shots for the Eagles to bring them within 59-55, it was Williams again who answered with a basket for the Moccasins. Woodstock countered with a jumper in the lane for the Eagles, before Williams hit two free throws for the Mocs.
The Mocs were able to keep their lead in the five-to-seven point range until a three-point play by senior point guard Gabe Pean with 38 seconds to play pulled the Eagles within 71-68. Dominic Girod converted three straight free throws for the Mocs, but the Eagles again got within three points on a long 3-pointer by sophomore guard Brendan Rooney with 16.6 seconds on the clock.
Gilberry then hit one-of-two free throws for the Moccasins, but the Eagles' last chance at a win ended when Williams grabbed a rebound and hit the two ensuing free throws with three seconds to play for the final margin.
Williams was one of five Florida Southern players to score in double figures, followed by Gilberry and Hurley Dunbar with 13 points apiece. Girod and Andrei Grant had 12 points each for FSC (10-3).
Watts led the Eagles with 16 points and 11 rebounds, his second straight double-double. Woodstock scored 15 points and Bauer had 10. Pean finished with nine points while sophomore Adam Liddell had 10 boards.