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FGCU Falls Short at St. John’s, 79-68
|Florida Gulf Coast||32||36||68|
|Stats at a Glance||FGCU||STJ|
|FG Percentage||.443 (27-61)||.550 (33-60)|
|3P FG Percentage||.286 (6-21)||.300 (3-10)|
|FT Percentage||.727 (8-11)||.625 (10-16)|
COMER - 4
MCKNIGHT - 1
Thompson records third 20-point game of the season
QUEENS, N.Y. – Playing its fourth game in six days, the FGCU men’s basketball team received another 20-point night from sophomore Bernard Thompson (Conyers, Ga./Rockdale County HS), but couldn’t overcome a strong second half push from St. John’s in a 79-68 loss at Carnesecca Arena Saturday on ESPN3.
Just two days removed from putting together wins on consecutive days to earn an automatic invitation to the 2016 Battle 4 Atlantis, the Eagles showed no signs of tired legs in the first half, jumping out to a 23-10 lead by the 10-minute mark.
St. John’s used a 10-1 run to close the first half to tie the game at 32-32 at the break, the first time the game had been tied since the opening tip. Midway through the second half, SJU embarked on a 16-5 run that turned a one-point FGCU lead, 45-44 (15:21), into a 12-point advantage for the Red Storm.
FGCU now stands at 4-3 on the season, going 2-2 over its four-game week that started last Sunday with a nationally televised game at Duke. St. John’s, who is now 3-0 at Carnesecca this season, stands at 4-2 with its losses coming to No. 16 Baylor and Murray State, who is also receiving votes.
“I thought our guys played hard and I was very pleased with the way we started the game,” said second-year head coach Andy Enfield. “There was a stretch late in the first half that we let St. John’s get back into the game and I thought that gave them some momentum going into the second half.”
Thompson’s game-high 20 points, including 14 in the second half, mark his third 20-point game of the season, all of which have come on the road against VCU, Duke and St. John’s. The A-Sun leader in steals, Thompson had a pair of thefts to go along with his five rebounds and four assists. Thompson has reached double-digits in the second half in four of seven games.
St. John’s was also led by a sophomore guard, as D’Angelo Harrison dueled with Thompson in the second half. Harrison poured in 18 of his 20 points in the second half, leading four players in double figures for St. John’s with his fifth 20-point game of the young season.
FGCU jumped out a 10-2 lead just 2:25 into the game, as it came away with a bucket on four of its opening five possessions. A three-pointer by junior Chase Fieler (Parkersburg, W. Va./Parkersburg South HS) on the opening possession followed by a trifecta by senior Sherwood Brown (Orlando, Fla./Olympia HS) and a pair of layups by redshirt sophomore Eric McKnight (Raleigh, N.C./Princeton Day Academy/Iowa State) and sophomore Brett Comer (Winter Park, Fla./Winter Park HS) forced St. John’s head coach Steve Lavin to call an early timeout.
Still holding a 14-10 lead at the 13:48 mark, the Eagles used a 9-0 run to take its largest lead of the game (13) at 23-10 and force Lavin into calling his second timeout less than 10 minutes in. The 9-0 run that took 3:48 off the clock was capped by a breakaway dunk from Brown and saw the Red Storm go 0-of-4 from the field with four turnovers.
Another dunk by Brown at the 3:52 mark pushed the FGCU lead back to a full three possessions, 31-22, but the Red Strom scored 10 of the game’s final 11 points in the half to tie the game at 32-32. FGCU owned a 21-12 edge on the glass in the opening 20 minutes.
The opening four minutes and change of the second half featured three lead changes and a pair of ties, as five straight points by Fieler on a dunk and a three from the left wing gave FGCU a 45-44 edge with 15:21 to play.
Fieler’s three would be FGCU’s last lead of the game, as St. John’s used a quick 9-0 run to regain the lead for good. The nine straight points eventually led to the game-changing 16-5 run that gave the Red Strom a 62-50 lead.
Brown and Fieler joined Thompson in double figures with 15 points and 11 points, respectively. Brown coupled his 15 points with five rebounds and three steals, while Fieler knocked down 3-of-6 from three-point land and grabbed a team-high seven boards.
For the game, FGCU shot 44 percent (27-61) from the field, while SJU finished with a 55 percent (33-60) clip that was bolstered by a 20-of-33 performance in the second half in which it out-scored the Eagles, 47-36.
With its flurry of seven games in 15 days to start the season now in the books, FGCU will get three days off from game action before it travels to Samford on Wednesday, Nov. 28. Gametime is slated for 8 p.m. ET.