Derrick O'Neil recorded 27 points and 9 rebounds in the win
FORT MYERS, Fla. – Derrick O’Neil (27 points, 9 rebounds) led the FGCU men's basketball team to a 60-55 victory over the Florida Atlantic University Owls at Alico Arena Monday night in front of a crowd of 1,237.
The Eagles (2-4) got off to a strong start, opening the game with a 10-4 run that included three field goals from Derrick O'Neil. FGCU would extend the lead to as many as eight points after an O'Neil layup gave the Eagles a 16-8 lead with 12:06 to play. The Owls (3-5) would battle back, outscoring the Eagles 14-4 over the next six minutes. A pair of Delvin Franklin free throws put the Eagles back out in front with 5:20 to play in the half at 23-22. FAU would regain the lead 15 seconds later on a Carderro Nwoji jumper. In a half that would see five ties and three lead changes, the Owls would eventually take a slim 30-28 lead into the locker room.
The second half was very close throughout, with the Owls clinging to a slight lead for most of the half. The Eagles trailed until the 3:04 mark when O’Neil hit a free throw to tie the game at 53 apiece. 28 seconds later Chad Lutkenhaus connected on a free throw to give the Eagles a 54-53 lead, their first lead since the 5:20 mark in the first half. Reed Baker drilled a jumper with 1:40 left to make it a three-point game, and Derrick O’Neil hit three clutch free throws in the closing seconds to clinch it for the Eagles.
FAU’s Alex Tucker scored a team-high 10 points and also racked up a game-high 7 assists. Brett Royster pulled down a game-high 10 rebounds and added 9 points as well. Carderro Nwoji chipped in 8 points, 6 boards, and 3 assists.
Derrick O’Neil turned in the best performance by an Eagle this year, scoring 27 points on 7-10 shooting, including 1-1 from 3-point range. He also converted 12-16 free throws, pulled down a team-high 9 rebounds, and added 3 steals, 2 assists, and 2 blocks. Reed Baker recorded 9 points and 4 assists for FGCU. Kyle Marks also added 9 points and 6 rebounds.
The Eagles will be back on the court on Thursday as they open up Atlantic Sun conference play with a road contest in DeLand, Fla., against the Stetson Hatters. The game will be part of a doubleheader as the FGCU women’s basketball team will also be in DeLand to take on the Hatters prior to the men’s game. Tip-off for the women’s game is set for 5:30, and the men are scheduled to start at approximately 8:00 PM.