(12-6, 4-1 A-Sun)
(8-8, 2-1 A-Sun)
1/10/2013 | Spartanburg, S.C. (Hodge Center) | Attendance: 759
|Stats at a Glance||FGCU||UPST|
|3P FG Percentage||.333
Eagles end Spartans’ 12-game home win streak
SPARTANBURG, S.C. – Junior Chase Fieler’s (Parkersburg, W. Va./Parkersburg South HS) layup with 1.5 seconds left in overtime time provided the final lead change of a hard-fought game between the Atlantic Sun’s top two teams in the standings, as FGCU picked up a thrilling 72-71 overtime victory Thursday night on ESPN3 at the Hodge Center.
The game-winning play developed off a defensive stop and senior Sherwood Brown’s (Orlando, Fla./Olympia HS) team-best 11th rebound of the game with 15 seconds left in the extra frame. FGCU moved the ball around before redshirt sophomore Eric McKnight (Raleigh, N.C./Princeton Day Academy/Iowa State) caught it at the high post and dropped a perfect pass underneath to Fieler whose layup was goaltended with 1.5 seconds left.
USC Upstate had to in-bound the ball the full length of the court, but Torrey Craig was trapped just before the right side of half court and the shot was let go after the buzzer to give the Spartans their first home loss in over a year, a span of 12 games.
“This was a great college basketball game and one that shows our growing maturity,” said head coach Andy Enfield. “To be on the road in conference play and be able to fight for an overtime victory tells us a lot about our guys.”
With their third straight victory, the Eagles take over first place in the A-Sun standings at 4-1 and now stand at 12-6 overall. The loss snaps a four-game win streak for USC Upstate, as they were the last unbeaten team in A-Sun play.
FGCU’s starters accounted for all 72 points, as all five players reached double figures. Sophomore Bernard Thompson (Conyers, Ga./Rockdale County HS) led the way with 19 points on 4-of-8 from long range, while Fieler had 17 points, five rebounds and four assists.
Playing in his 100th career game, Brown’s aforementioned 11th rebound was part of his fourth career double-double that also featured 14 points. Brown’s double-double was the first by an FGCU player this season. Besides his assist on the game-winning bucket, McKnight supplied 12 points, including a pair of clutch free throws in overtime, while sophomore Brett Comer (Winter Park, Fla./Winter Park HS) rounded out the starters with 10 points, eight assists, five rebounds and a career-best five steals.
The A-Sun leader in steals at 9.4 per game, the Eagles came away with 11 thefts to improve to 7-2 this season when finishing with double-digit steals. Comer and Brown accounted for eight of the 11 steals that led to a 20-10 edge in points off turnovers for the Green and Blue. FGCU’s other edge came in the paint where it out-scored USC Upstate 34-20.
FGCU led for all but 1:54 in the first half and the first 14:32 of the second half until USC Upstate chipped away at the visitor’s nine-point, 38-29, halftime lead.
Reigning A-Sun Freshman of the Year Ty Greene gave the Spartans their first lead of the second half with the first of his three trifectas in the final four minutes that made the score 56-55 with 4:05 remaining. Greene’s three was the first of four lead changes on consecutive possessions after the first 36 minutes of the game featured none.
A clutch three-pointer by Brown and a contested jumper from the right baseline by Thompson with 35 seconds remaining upped FGCU’s lead to 64-61.
The Eagles’ needed the three-point cushion, as Greene struck again, this time with a three-pointer from deep dead center that equaled the game at 64-64 with under 20 seconds to play. FGCU immediately in-bounded the ball and without no timeouts, Thompson worked into the lane, but his floater went long off the backboard.
Fieler’s game-winning layup was the second lead change of overtime and helped FGCU avoid its second overtime loss in A-Sun action, avenging its tough 77-70 defeat at Mercer on Jan. 2.
Craig led the Spartans with 24 points and 12 rebounds – both game-highs – while Greene had 17 of his 20 in the second half and overtime. The duo combined for 31 of USC Upstate’s 42 points in the second half and overtime.
For the game, FGCU shot 46 percent (26-58) from the field, while the Spartans produced a 43 percent (26-60) clip.
FGCU will look to improve on its program-best 4-1 start to A-Sun play on Saturday when it caps its road trip at ETSU. Gametime is slated for 4 p.m. and can be seen live for free on A-Sun TV.