KENNESAW, Ga. – Kennesaw State’s Spencer Dixon buried a contested step-back three-pointer with seven seconds on the clock to send the Owls to a dramatic 69-68 Atlantic Sun win over the FGCU men’s basketball team at the KSU Convocation Center on Thursday night.
Trailing 66-58 with 4:22 to go, the Eagles held KSU scoreless over the next four minutes and 15 seconds to climb back into the game and take the lead with 24 seconds reaming on a jumper by freshman Christophe Varidel (Versoix, Switzerland/Worcester Academy) that made it a 68-66 FGCU lead. Varidel’s jumped capped a 10-0 run by the visitors.
Without calling a timeout, Dixon immediately brought the ball up the court and never gave it up, running 10 seconds off the clock before creating separation between him and his defender by stepping back for a three from the right wing that hit nothing but net with seven seconds left.
FGCU got the ball over half court before calling a timeout with 3.4 left. The side out-of-bounds play saw Varidel inbound to freshman Chase Fieler (Parkersburg, W. Va./Parkersburg South), who handed off to Varidel. Varidel was unable to get inside the arc with a pump fake and fired up a contested three that sailed wide as time expired.
“Another down to the wire game for us that essentially came down to had the ball last,” said head coach Dave Balza. “It’s tough because we executed well to get up two down the stretch and then Dixon made a really tough shot. I thought our guys did a great job of maintaining their pose and executing to get a good look at the end.”
The loss denies the Eagles from putting together their first win streak in February since joining the Division I ranks, as they fall to 6-17 overall and 3-11 in the Atlantic Sun. Kennesaw State improves to 7-17 and 5-9 in the A-Sun with its second straight win.
Redshirt sophomore Anthony Banks (Lantana, Fla./Santaluces HS) led the Eagles with 17 points, including 10 in the first half. Varidel reached double figures for the 11th straight game with 15 points on 6-of-13 from the field, highlighted by a trio of three-pointers. Junior Kevin Cantinol (Guadeloupe, French West Indies/Calvary Christian/Ole Miss) was the final FGCU player in double-digits with 12 points and six rebounds.
Four of five KSU starters reached double figures on a night in which junior Kelvin McConnell and sophomore Markeith Cummings scored their 1,000th career point. McConnell led all scorers with 19 points on 5-of-8 from long range, while Cummings had 10 of his 14 in the final frame. Dixon’s late three was his fourth of the game, as he finished with 18 points and six assists.
For the first time in seven games, FGCU lost the battle on the boards by a slim 34-33 margin. Sophomore LaDaris Dunn, the A-Sun’s leading rebounder, accounted for 13 boards and also had 13 points. Both teams racked up the offensive caroms with a combined 37 en route to 37 second chance points.
A back-and-forth first half featured six ties and five lead changes, but the Eagles held the upper hand for over 15 minutes. FGCU produced the largest lead over the opening 20 minutes, taking 14-9 lead with 13:46 on the clock following a three-pointer by Varidel.
Four of the five lead changes in the first half came from 11:25 mark until a put-back by Cantinol gave the Blue and Green a 31-30 lead with 5:16 to go.
The Eagle edge held strong through the half, as the visitors took a 35-34 lead into the half, just their fifth halftime advantage on the road this season. Eight of nine players that saw the court in opening frame for FGCU registered a point, led by 10 from Banks.
FGCU will stay in the state of Georgia for its next A-Sun contest when it travels to Mercer on Saturday. Tip time at the University Center, the site of the Atlantic Sun Tournament, is set for 4:30 p.m.