BLOOMINGTON, Ind. – Behind 24 points from sophomore Christian Watford and 14 three-pointers, Indiana defeated the FGCU men’s basketball team, 88-60, in the season opener for both clubs on Friday night in front of 15,478 fans at historic Assembly Hall.
Watford poured in 16 of his game-high 24 points in the second half to led three players in double figures for IU. The Hoosiers torrid shooting night included a 53 percent (30-57) clip from the field and 14-of-28 from long range.
“Give credit to Indiana. They moved the ball extremely well and were able to get open looks,” said FGCU head coach Dave Balza. “I thought we were very active in the first half, but didn’t have our legs in the second half and we suffered on both ends because of it. Overall, it was a great test for our guys and it shows what we need to work on.”
The game marked the third straight season the Eagles have opened up on the road against a BCS foe, as they fall to 0-1 heading into Tuesday’s home opener against Southeast Missouri State. The season-opening win was the 26th in a row for the Hoosiers.
Redshirt sophomore Anthony Banks (Lantana, Fla./Santaluces HS) showed no signs of just returning from a broken foot, leading the Blue and Green with 16 points and six rebounds, including five on the offensive end. Senior Reed Baker (Naples, Fla./Bishop Verot/Michigan) was the only other FGCU player in double figures with 12 points and three steals.
Banks’ five offensive rebounds highlighted a night in which the Eagles grabbed 15 caroms on the offensive end. Just a year removed from grabbing 100 offensive boards, Banks has now grabbed five or more offensive rebounds in nine of 30 career contests.
For the game, FGCU shot just 34 percent (17-50) from the field and knocked down 4-of-17 from three-point land. Both teams struggled taking care of the ball, combining for 46 turnovers and 49 fouls.
IU’s stellar sophomore class supplied the team’s top three scorers with Jordan Hulls knocking down 6-of-9 from long range for 18 points, while classmate Maurice Creek drilled three trifectas en route to 13 points.
FGCU owned an early 4-2 lead on four straight points from Banks and a zone defense that forced Indiana into three consecutive early turnovers.
Indiana quickly broke out of their opening four-minute slumber and went on a 10-0 run that got the home crowd of 15,478 back into the game and gave the Hoosiers a 12-4 advantage.
An old-fashioned three-point play by junior Tim Snyder (Punta Gorda, Fla./Charlotte HS/Hillsborough CC) broke the Hoosier run, but didn’t hold them off for long, as they used six three-pointers to ignite a 21-8 scoring spurt that ultimately resulted in a 33-15 lead with 10:05 left in the first half. During the run, Indiana knocked down all six of its shots from beyond the arc.
FGCU was able to keep IU from adding onto the lead over the final 10 minutes of the half, as it trailed 46-32 at the break. Banks (9) and Baker (7) accounted for half of the Blue and Green’s 32 first half points.
A quick 5-0 run to open the second half by the Eagles cut the Indiana advantage under double figures, 46-37, for the first time since 14:08 mark of the first half. Baker capped the run with a smooth layup in transition that also drew a foul for a three-point play.
IU broke the game open from that point, though, scoring the game’s next eight points in just 40 seconds to regain its 17-point lead, 54-37, and never allowing the Eagles back into the contest.
A total of 11 different players scored for the FGCU on the night, as five new Eagles registered their first points at the Division I level. Freshman Christophe Varidel (Versoix, Switzerland/Worcester Prep) knocked down a pair of triples to finish with seven points.
FGCU will be back in action when it opens its home schedule with Southeast Missouri State on Tuesday, Nov. 16 at Alico Arena. Gametime is slated for 7:05 p.m.