11/23/2013 | Alico Arena (Fort Myers, FL) | Attendance: 4633
|Stats at a Glance||AMUMBB||FGCU|
|3P FG Percentage||.421
DUNK CITY, Fla. – A record, standing-room only crowd of 4,633 in Alico Arena witnessed double-double performances from guard Brett Comer and center Nate Hicks as the FGCU men’s basketball team (4-1) won its fourth straight game Saturday night over local foe Ave Maria, 79-56.
Comer (Winter Park, Fla./Winter Park HS) led FGCU in scoring for the third consecutive outing as the junior poured in a game-high 18 points and issued a season-best 10 assists. Hicks (Panama City Beach, Fla./J.R. Arnold HS/Georgia Tech) tied his career high of 12 points set Monday versus Eckerd and corralled a career-best 11 rebounds – seven of which came in the second half – as the redshirt junior recorded his first career double-double.
The sellout crowd of 4,633 surpassed last year’s record of 4,552 in the season opener against Miami. FGCU has now had 4,000 or more spectators in three straight games for the first time in program history, with three of the four largest crowds ever already occurring in the first three home games of the season.
“First of all, I’d like to thank the crowd for another great college basketball atmosphere. We appreciate everyone showing up and supporting us,” head coach Joe Dooley said. “I thought in spurts we did some good things, but our spurts of poor play were too long and we need to correct those. But I thought we moved the ball well and had a pretty efficient offense in which some guys stepped up off the bench.”
Comer and Hicks led a quintet of Eagles’ double-figure scorers for the second straight game. Filip Cvjeticanin (Zagreb, Croatia/American School of Madrid) came off the bench to tally a career-high-tying 17 points – 15 of which came in the second half as the junior knocked down five straight 3-pointers. Cvjeticanin also recorded a career-high nine rebounds to aid in FGCU’s 42-30 rebounding edge.
Dajuan Graf (Charlotte, N.C./Phillip O. Berry Academy) earned the first start of his career and finished one basket shy of his career high in points as he netted 10, and dished out a season-best five assists and three steals. Chase Fieler (Parkersburg, W. Va./Parkersburg South HS) also added 10 points while collecting five rebounds, issuing two assists and tying a career high with three steals.
FGCU raced out to a 21-5 start just more than nine minutes in, fueled by three Comer 3-pointers without a miss in the opening six minutes. The trio of trifectas tied the point guard’s career high for 3’s in a game, with his third of the night giving the Eagles a double-digit lead, 15-4, at the 14:17 mark.
Ave Maria (2-3) gradually chipped away and got its deficit back down to single digits, 25-16, with a little more than four minutes remaining in the half before the Green and Blue responded to take a 36-21 lead into the half.
A 14-2 FGCU run in the early stages of the second half – capped by a Comer to Fieler transition alley-oop – turned a 42-30 game into a 24-point margin, 56-32, at the 11:43 mark. The lead eventually blossomed to as much as 34, 79-45, as junior Kevin Boyle (Rahway, N.J./St. Patrick HS) knocked down a 3 for his first points of the season and the final points of the night for the Eagles.
For the game, FGCU shot 54.2 percent (32-59) from the field, including 48 percent (12-25) from 3-point range. The Eagles limited the NAIA Gyrenes to 36.8 percent (21-57) from the floor and forced them into 16 turnovers. FGCU itself committed 15 giveaways, but only had five in the second half the Eagles had double-digit turnovers for the first time since their season opener at Nebraska. However, with the 15 turnovers came 25 assists, setting the Division-I program record for assists in a game.
Every healthy Eagle logged game action as Dooley used 10 players for the second straight game, with only Cvjeticanin playing more than 30 minutes. Marcus Blake (Miami, Fla./American Heritage HS) set career highs with four points and four rebounds while seeing a career-establishing 19 minutes. Boyle played 17 minutes and also added two assists and a steal.
For the second straight game, the Eagles were without the services of junior Bernard Thompson (Conyers, Ga./Rockdale County HS), who did not dress for precautionary reasons after playing through an ankle injury in the first three games of the year. Thompson, who is averaging 13 points and four rebounds this year, is the nation’s leading returning steals leader as he recorded 102 thefts a season ago, and was voted the Atlantic Sun Defensive Preseason Player of the Year after winning the award in 2012-13.
FGCU hopes to have its versatile guard back when it returns to action in ACC country Tuesday night at NC State. The Eagles and Wolfpack are set to tip at 7 p.m. from PNC Arena, and the game will air on ESPN3 and via the WatchESPN app.
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2013-14 men’s basketball season tickets are selling quickly, and only a limited amount remain. New this year are mini-plan packages for all games, with the exception of “Breakfast at the Beach,” and individual-game tickets are now on sale. Fans can reserve their seat(s) by visiting the Alico Arena Ticket Office, calling 239-590-7145 or logging on to FGCUAthletics.com/Tickets.