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Balanced Attack Leads FGCU Past Toledo
|Florida Gulf Coast||46||37||83|
|Stats at a Glance||TOLEDO||FGCU|
|FG Percentage||.452 (28-62)||.508 (31-61)|
|3P FG Percentage||.379 (11-29)||.364 (8-22)|
|FT Percentage||.619 (13-21)||.565 (13-23)|
VARIDEL - 16
THOMPSON - 16
DENNIS - 1
BROWN - 1
DEAR - 1
SMITH - 1
FORT MYERS, Fla. – Five different players reached double figures and FGCU came away with three straight defensive stops in the final minute to hold on for a thrilling 83-80 non-conference win over Toledo on Thursday night at Alico Arena.
Redshirt junior Eddie Murray (Fort Myers, Fla./Bishop Verot HS) corralled his first career double-double with 11 points and a career-high 14 rebounds over 36 minutes to highlight a season-best five players that finished in double figures.
The win snapped a two-game losing skid for FGCU, as it improved to 4-7 heading into the Christmas break. FGCU will be back in action at home on Thursday, Dec. 29 against Maine at 7:05 p.m. Toledo is now 7-5 on the young season.
Three different players scored a team-high 16 points for the Eagles, as they shot 51 percent (31-61) from the field en route to a season-best 83 points. Freshmen Bernard Thompson (Conyers, Ga./Rockdale County HS) and Dante Holmes (Baltimore, Md./St. Frances/Oldsmar Christian) each had 16 points, while sophomore Christophe Varidel (Versoix, Switzerland/Worcester Academy) did the same off the bench with a trio of three-pointers.
Thompson, Holmes and Brett Comer (Winter Park, Fla./Winter Park HS) were part of a three-member freshmen starting backcourt that went for 41 points, 11 assists and six steals. Holmes (6-11) and Thompson’s (6-13) 16 points came on similar stat lines, while Comer had nine points, seven assists and three steals.
Toledo was led by its starting freshman point guard Julius Brown, who poured in a game-high 29 points on 10-of-15 from the field, including 7-of-11 from three-point land, to go along with seven assists. Team leading scorer and rebounder Rian Pearson finished with 11 points and 12 rebounds for his third double-double of the season.
The two teams essentially traded baskets over the five-minute duration leading up to the final minute, as the lead changed hands twice with five ties during that span. The final tie of the game came with 1:21 remaining on a layup by Toledo’s Curtis Dennis that made it 80-80.
After Murray’s fifth offensive rebound of the game kept possession with the Eagles, Holmes was fouled on a drive to the basket following a called timeout by head coach Andy Enfield. Holmes calmly sank both free throws to give FGCU an 82-80 lead.
A missed three-pointer by Brown was followed by Comer making 1-of-2 free throws to keep it a one-possession game, at 83-80. A missed three-point attempt by Toledo was then rebounded by sophomore Chase Fieler (Parkersburg, W. Va./Parkersburg South HS), who was quickly fouled by the Rockets. Fieler’s bid to make it a two-possession contest at the free throw line failed, but Toledo’s two opportunities to tie the game from long range in the final seconds both missed.
It marked the sixth time this season FGCU has played in a game decided by five points or less, but was the first time it came out victorious.
The start was the fifth straight for Murray, who played more minutes than normal due to senior Kevin Cantinol (Guadeloupe, French West Indies/Calvary Christian/Ole Miss) missing the game after being issued a flagarant-2 foul against Nebraska on Dec. 7. Murray’s 14 caroms accounted for 41 percent of the team’s 34 on the night. The Eagles also finished with a positive assist/turnover ratio (17/13) for the second time this season and turned 12 offensive rebounds into 13 second chance points.
Toledo jumped out to a 14-8 lead just four minutes into the game by knocking down its first six shots from the field, including trio of three-pointers. Brown began his 14-point first half with a pair of threes during the Rockets’ hot start.
The Eagles quickly joined the early half scoring frenzy by reeling off a 23-6 run that only took six minutes and ended with the home team holding a 31-20 edge at the 10-minute mark. Toledo’s hot start was cooled by six turnovers and 2-of-7 shooting during FGCU’s six-minute run, while the Eagles scored on 10 of 13 possessions. Six different players scored during the spurt, led by five each from the international combo of Varidel and Filip Cvjeticanin (Zagreb, Croatia/American School of Madrid).
FGCU’s lead grew to as large as 14, 46-32, on Holmes’ layup that gave him 12 points with 47 seconds left, but a Toledo three made it a 46-35 game at the half. The Green and Blue’s 46 points were a first half season-high, coming on 19-of-35 from the field and 17 points off Toledo turnovers.
The Rockets’ comeback was fueled by cutting down on their turnovers, as they committed just one over the opening 10 minutes of the second half. As a result, Toledo erased the double-digit halftime deficit by the 10-minute mark by out-scoring the Eagles 26-14 to take its first lead, 61-60, in over 23 minutes of game action.