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Balanced Scoring Pushes FGCU to 78-59 Exhibition Win Over Saint Leo
|Florida Gulf Coast||34||44||78|
|Stats at a Glance||SLM||FGCU|
|FG Percentage||.444 (20-45)||.477 (31-65)|
|3P FG Percentage||.316 (6-19)||.435 (10-23)|
|FT Percentage||.684 (13-19)||.667 (6-9)|
FIELER - 3
FORT MYERS, Fla. – Behind a decisive 15-0 run midway through the second half and a 48 percent shooting night, the FGCU men’s basketball team defeated Saint Leo 78-59 in an exhibition game on Saturday at Alico Arena.
Led by a game-high 16 points from senior Kevin Cantinol (Clearwater, Fla./Calvary Christian HS/Ole Miss), three FGCU players reached double figures and two more scored nine points to highlight the balanced scoring attack. Cantinol’s 16 points came on 8-of-12 from the field, while he also added a team-high eight boards. Freshman Bernard Thompson (Conyers, Ga./Rockdale County HS) added 14 points and sophomore Christophe Varidel (Versoix, Switzerland/Worcester Prep) poured in 12 off the bench.
The Eagles hit 31-of-65 from the field for the game, including 10-of-23 (44 percent) from long range as six different players registered a three-pointer. All nine of freshman Filip Cvjeticanin’s (Croatia/American School of Madrid) points came on threes (3-6), while Varidel and junior Sherwood Brown (Orlando, Fla./Olympia HS) hit a pair of treys each.
It was a game of runs, as the Eagles reeled off four scoring spurts of seven or more consecutive points finished off by the 15-0 run that turned a two-point lead, 48-46, with 11:01 on the clock into 63-46 advantage with 5:46 remaining.
The FGCU defense was the difference during the decisive run, as the Eagles held the Lions without a point for eight straight possessions thanks to six turnovers. Thompson scored the opening five points and assisted on a three-pointer by classmate Dante Holmes (Baltimore, Md./St. Frances Academy/Oldsmar Christian), who also capped the big run and put the game out of reach with a pair of free throws to make it 63-46.
“I’m proud of our guys for turning up the defensive intensity in the second half,” said first-year head coach Andy Enfield, who made his debut in front of 935 fans at Alico Arena. “I thought we gave up too many uncontested shots in the first half, but when we got going and played our principles we were very good. We have a lot of young guys so it’s a valuable learning experience.”
Several of the runs were ignited by the court vision and passing of freshman Brett Comer (Winter Park, Fla./Winter Park HS), who dished out a game-high eight assists to help the Eagles finish with a 22-to-14 assist/turnover ratio. Comer also led the way with three steals, as FGCU forced Saint Leo into 24 turnovers that led to 33 points. FGCU’s 12 steals helped the home team own a 17-0 edge in fast break points.
FGCU was able to overcome a sluggish opening five minutes with a 9-1 run that gave the Eagles a 11-5 lead just under seven minutes into the game. Four different players scored during the run that finished with a breakaway layup by Holmes.
After Saint Leo responded with a 7-0 spurt, the Green and Blue took back the lead for good with a 13-2 run that stretched nearly five minutes and ended with a 24-14 Eagle lead with 5:25 on the clock. Three-pointers from Brown and Cvjeticanin helped FGCU score on six of eight possessions and rattle off 11 straight points.
Still leading 27-20, FGCU took its largest lead of the half (14) with a quick 7-0 run that was capped by a three-pointer from the right baseline from Varidel that made it 34-20 with 1:46 remaining.
Saint Leo responded with the final seven points of the half to cut the deficit to 34-27 at the break. The Eagles’ seven-point halftime lead was fueled by 18 points off 12 Lions turnovers and a 50 percent (14-28) shooting clip from the floor.
FGCU’s lead grew to 12, 43-31, just under five minutes into the second half thanks to five points from Brown, who sank his second three of the game during the span.
Again, Saint Leo bounced back, this time going three straight possessions with a three-pointer to quickly turn the 12-point FGCU lead into a one-possession deficit, 43-40, with 13:26 left before FGCU closed the door.
Freshman Taylor Bassett led Saint Leo in scoring with 15 points, while junior Tom Neary finished with a double-double of 13 points and 11 rebounds. The Lions finished with a 44 percent (20-45) clip from the field and shot 10 more free throws (13-19) than the Eagles.
Thompson’s 14 points were accompanied by six assists and two steals, while Varidel knocked down 5-of-9 from the floor for his 12 points. Brown and Cvjeticanin each added nine points on combined 5-of-10 from three. Redshirt junior Eddie Murray (North Fort Myers, Fla./Bishop Verot HS) grabbed six boards in a foul-plagued 15 minutes to help the Eagles gather 13 offensive boards and 18 second chance points.
The 2011-12 campaign will officially get underway when FGCU travels to Fort Worth, Texas for its season opener at TCU on Friday, Nov. 11. Gametime is slated for 8 p.m. ET.