Florida Gulf Coast
12/29/2011 | Fort Myers, Fla. (Alico Arena) | Attendance: 1257
|Florida Gulf Coast||40||44||84|
|Stats at a Glance||MAINE||FGCU|
|3P FG Percentage||.440
FORT MYERS, Fla. – Led by five underclassmen in double figures, highlighted 20 points from sophomore Christophe Varidel (Versoix, Switzerland/Worcester Academy) and classmate Chase Fieler’s (Parkersburg, W. Va./Parkersburg South HS) first career double-double, the FGCU men’s basketball team defeated America East member Maine, 84-72, on Thursday night at Alico Arena.
The win was the second in a row for the Eagles, who improve to 5-7 on the season heading into the majority of its Atlantic Sun schedule. Maine, who came in on a three-game win streak, falls to 6-5.
Varidel’s third career 20-point game came over 26 minutes off the bench, marking the seventh time this season the bench has supplied the team’s leading scorer. The Versoix, Switzerland product knocked down a trio of threes (3-5) while going a perfect 7-of-7 at the free throw line with four rebounds and three assists. Varidel is shooting 53 percent (30-57) from long range this season.
As a team, FGCU shot 30-of-37 from the charity stripe, including a solid 25-of-29 in the second half, compared to an 11-of-20 night for the Black Bears. Varidel along with freshmen Bernard Thompson (Conyers, Ga./Rockdale County HS) and Brett Comer (Winter Park, Fla./Winter Park HS) all made seven free throws each. Entering the game, the Eagles season-high for free throw makes was 19.
The Green and Blue shot a respectable 47 percent (23-49) from the floor, but were also able to turn 13 offensive rebounds into 20 second chance points. Fieler was a big part of the 20-11 advantage in second chance points, grabbing five offensive caroms en route to a game-high 11 rebounds on the night. Fieler completed his double-double with 11 points, five assists, three steals and two blocks.
Joining Varidel and Fieler in the group of five double figure scorers was the freshmen trio of Comer, Thompson and Dante Holmes (Baltimore, Md./St. Frances/Oldsmar Christian). Thompson’s 15 points were joined by nine rebounds, while Comer had 10 points, seven assists, five rebounds and three steals. After going the first nine games without reaching double figures, Holmes has done so in three straight, scoring 12 points with five boards.
FGCU set a season-high for points scored for the second straight game, but it was also impressive on the defensive end. The Eagles limited the America East’s (AE) top scoring team to a 39.7 percent clip (25-63) from the field, while holding four-time AE Freshman of the Week Justin Edwards to four points, 13 below his season average. Three-time All-Conference honoree Gerald McLemore finished with a game-high 26 points for his fifth 20-point outing of the year, but went 8-of-22 from the field.
After the Eagles jumped out to a 12-point lead, 36-24, with 3:20 remaining in the first half, the Black Bears climbed back into the game by closing the opening 20 minutes on a 12-4 run to make it a 40-36 game at the break. The halftime lead was the seventh of the season for the Green and Blue, who shot 50 percent (15-30) in the first frame.
FGCU’s strong offensive first half didn’t carry over to the start of the second stanza, as it went nearly the first four minutes without a point, while Maine took its first lead since the opening minute of the game, at 41-40.
The two teams proceeded to trade baskets over the next seven minutes, resulting in 12 lead changes and three ties, and concluding with the score tied at 60-60 with 8:53 showing on the clock.
Five straight points at the free throw line and consecutive stops on the defensive end for the first time in the second half gave FGCU a 65-60 lead with under seven minutes to play.
The game remained a one-possession contest, 68-65, with 4:43 left until an 8-0 FGCU run capped by Varidel’s third three of the game gave the home team a double figure lead, 75-65, that was too much to overcome.
After going 1-1 over a pair of A-Sun home games in December, FGCU will ring the New Year with its first conference road swing into Georgia. The Eagles will open the trip on Monday, Jan. 2 against Mercer (8-6, 1-1) at 7:30 p.m.
FGCU POSTGAME NOTES
FGCU is now 5-1 at Alico Arena this season and 13-8 in non-conference home games since joining Division I in 2007-08 … the 84 points scored set a season-high, beating the 83 points against Toledo last time out … FGCU has out-rebounded nine of 12 opponents … FGCU has 14 double figure scorers in its last three games … FGCU went with the starting lineup of Comer, Thompson, Holmes, Fieler and Murray for the fourth straight game (2-2) … the Eagles are shooting 46 percent (50-110) from three over the last six games … FGCU equaled a season-high with 11 steals … Varidel’s 20 points equaled a season-high with both coming off the bench … Varidel has made three or more treys in a game seven times this season … Fieler’s double-double was the team’s fourth of the season, while his 11 rebounds equaled a career-high … Fieler has reached double figures in five of the last six games … Holmes is averaging 14.3 points over the last three games compared to 6.0 over the first nine … Thompson has reached double figures a team-best nine times while his nine rebounds were a season-best … Comer has led the team in assists all but one game … Comer has reached double figures five times and has seven-plus assists on four occasions.