DELAND, Fla. – The FGCU men’s basketball team dropped its first game in their last five contests to Stetson on Tuesday night at the Edmunds Center in DeLand, Fla. The Eagles shot just 50-percent from the free throw line as they fell to the Hatters, 72-64.
“Stetson did a nice job taking us out of our offense,” head coach Dave Balza said. “They pressured our guards and forced us into taking some tough shots.”
Derrick O’Neil (Moreno Valley, Calif.) led the Eagles with 14 points on 4-of-7 shooting, followed by Reed Baker (Naples, Fla.) with 11 points and Kyle Marks (West Palm Beach, Fla.) with nine.
Stetson’s A.J. Smith scored a game-high 21 points, while Tyshawn Patterson added 13, and Brandon Williams chipped in with 12.
The Eagles started off well, maintaining a lead throughout the first 12 minutes of the game. Reggie Chambers (Miramar, Fla.) hit a three with 11:58 remaining to give FGCU their largest lead of the game (14-8). Patterson hit a jumper to give the Hatters a 24-23 advantage with 5:04 left in the first half, a lead they would not relinquish.
Stetson’s lead would grow to as many as 13 points after Smith knocked down a trey with 13:09 remaining in the game (47-34).
Baker’s three-pointer with 1:55 remaining put the Eagles within four (64-60), but FGCU could not complete the comeback. In the final two minutes the Eagles would only connect on three of their last eight field goal attempts. FGCU would hit just nine of their 18 free throw attempts in the second half.
The Blue and Green open the New Year in Nashville, Tenn. as they travel to face cross-town rivals Belmont (Jan. 2) and Lipscomb (Jan. 4). The Eagles land back at home on Jan. 8 against North Florida in the A-Sun Game of the Week on Comcast/Charter Sports Southeast (CSS: Comcast channel 70). FGCU is 0-3 against Belmont and 1-2 against Lipscomb all-time.