Florida Gulf Coast
3/8/2013 | Macon, Ga. - Hawkins Arena | Attendance: 3527
|Florida Gulf Coast||24||48||72|
|Stats at a Glance||STET||FGCU|
|3P FG Percentage||.143
Second-seeded FGCU and top-seeded Mercer to meet Saturday on ESPN2
MACON, Ga. – For the second straight year FGCU will play in the Atlantic Sun championship game, as the second-seeded Eagles used a 48-point second half and another stout 40-minute defensive effort to defeat third-seeded Stetson, 72-58, Friday night in the semifinals at Hawkins Arena.
FGCU, who improved to 23-10 on the season and has now won 11 of its last 13, will square off against top-seeded tournament host Mercer (23-10) in a quick turnaround on Saturday at noon. The game can be seen nationally on ESPN2.
In just two years of Division I postseason eligibility under head coach Andy Enfield, FGCU has now advanced to the A-Sun championship both seasons, while the team’s 23 wins are a program D1 record and the third most in the 11-year history.
A-Sun Player of the Year Sherwood Brown (Orlando, Fla./Olympia HS) kept FGCU alive and even in the lead in the first half, scoring 16 of the team’s 24 points to help the Eagles take a 24-22 lead into the locker room after the first 20 minutes.
The second half belonged to the Green and Blue, as a 9-0 run to open the frame put the lead into double figures for the first time at 33-22, but it was an 8-2 run midway through the half that featured huge dunks from sophomore Eric McKnight (Raleigh, N.C./Princeton Day Academy) and junior Chase Fieler (Parkersburg, W. Va./Parkersburg South HS) that made the double-digit advantage stay for good over the final 8:16 of the game.
“I’m really thankful we have Sherwood Brown on our team,” said a smiling Enfield while looking at Brown to his left. “He really carried us when we went through those dry spells in the first half. Once we settled down and got into a flow, I felt we played exceptionally well. Although we scored 48 points in the second half, I thought our defense was the key tonight.”
For the fifth time in the last nine games, FGCU held its opponent to under 20 made field goals as Stetson shot 34 percent (19-56) from the field, including 3-of-21 from the three-point arc. The Eagles also improved to a perfect 13-0 on the year when limiting their opponent to less than 60 points.
FGCU shot a scorching 55 percent (16-29) in the second half, committing just five turnovers and getting half (24) of their 48 second half points in the paint. For the game, the Green and Blue finished at a 44 percent clip (26-59) and held a 42-35 edge on the glass, including 13 offensive caroms.
Brown finished with a game-high 18 points, seven rebounds and three steals, as the Eagles improved to 11-3 when he leads the team in scoring this season. Sophomore Bernard Thompson (Conyers, Ga./Rockdale County HS) continues to put on a show in the second half, scoring all 12 of his points in the final frame, while adding a career-high 13 rebounds for his third career double-double. Not to be lost in Thompson’s double-double were his four steals, which put the A-Sun Defensive Player of the Year at 95 for the year and in tie for third in A-Sun single-season history.
Fieler’s 11 points and McKnight’s 10 points rounded out the double figure scorers for FGCU, as the A-Sun’s top scoring team (72.7 ppg) has now had three or more players in double-digits in 26 of the last 28 contests. Fieler, who had 22 points in the quarterfinal win over UNF, added six rebounds. Junior Christophe Varidel (Versoix, Switzerland/Worcester Academy) added nine points off the bench in a productive 16 minutes.
Sophomore point guard Brett Comer (Winter Park, Fla./Winter Park HS) was a big part of the second half turnaround, coming up with all nine of his points and six assists in the final 20 minutes. Comer had a direct hand in 22 of the team’s 48 second half points. His 208 assists are currently the eighth-most in the country and the eighth-best total in A-Sun single-season history.
The A-Sun’s top scoring tandem, Stetson senior Adam Pegg and junior Chris Perez hit their season average with a combined 32 points. Pegg finished with team-highs of 17 points and eight rebounds, while Perez had 15 points.
FGCU and Mercer split their regular season series with the home team winning both contests. The Eagles won the last meeting, a 60-57 triumph on Feb. 28th in Southwest Florida, while the Jan. 2nd meeting in Macon, Ga. went into overtime before Mercer prevailed 77-70.