12/1/2013 | Alico Arena (Fort Myers, FL) | Attendance: 3779
|Stats at a Glance||ION||FGCU|
|3P FG Percentage||.519
DUNK CITY, Fla. – Junior Filip Cvjeticanin recorded his first career double-double with 15 points and 10 rebounds and classmate Brett Comer tallied a team-best 20 points, but it wasn’t enough for the FGCU men’s basketball team (4-3) to slow down up-tempo and hot-shooting Iona (3-2) as the Gaels connected at a 56-percent clip from the field en route to a 90-72 win Sunday afternoon at Alico Arena.
Cvjeticanin (Zagreb, Croatia/American School of Madrid) knocked down 4 or more 3-pointers for the third time in the last four games as he went 4-9 from deep and became just the ninth player in program history with at least 100 career 3s. The forward, who made just his third career start, pulled down a career-best 10 rebounds which represented nearly a third of FGCU’s 31 caroms on the day.
Iona – which finished second in the nation in scoring last year (80.7 ppg) and led the country two years ago (83.3) – shot 33-59 (55.9 percent) from the field, including 14-27 (51.9 percent) from 3-point range. The Gaels, whose two losses have come at Cleveland State and No. 2 Kansas, turned the ball over 16 times and took advantage of 13 FGCU giveaways to convert them in 17 points.
Comer (Winter Park, Fla./Winter Park HS) tallied his second 20-point game of the year behind a career-high 19 field-goal attempts and issued a game-high eight assists. The guard, who finished 14th in the nation in assists per game last season, has now distributed 34 of his 41 assists at home.
Bernard Thompson (Conyers, Ga./Rockdale County HS) scored 13 of his 17 points in the second half as the nation’s leading returning steals leader continues to recover from an ankle injury suffered before the season opener. Lone senior Chase Fieler (Parkersburg, W. Va./Parkersburg South HS) scored his 14 points on an efficient 7-of-10 shooting to round out the quartet of FGCU double-figure scorers.
“I’d like to compliment Iona on dominating from the mid-point of the first half through the rest of the game,” head coach Joe Dooley said. “When they got out and got running they got some easy baskets and shot the ball especially well in transition, which was something we talked about – especially transition 3s. We dug ourselves a hole and couldn’t get out of it.”
Both teams raced out the gates, with 30 combined points and multiple dunks being tallied before the first media timeout. The Eagles took a 20-16 lead at the 12:42 mark on a Fieler jumper, but that would ultimately be the largest lead of the afternoon for the Eagles. The two teams went back and forth before Iona eventually took a 32-30 lead with exactly 8 minutes remaining. However, the Gaels then closed the half on an extended 20-10 run to take a 52-40 lead into the halftime break.
That edge grew to 14 on Iona’s opening possession of the second stanza before Cvjeticanin hit back-to-back 3-pointers to trim the deficit to eight, 54-46, only a minute-and-a-half in – the closest FGCU had been since the 6-minute mark of the first half. But Iona, which has made two consecutive NCAA Tournament berths, once again had an answer and retaliated with another lengthy run as over the next 10 minutes it out-scored FGCU 22-8 to take what would eventually be the largest lead of the game at 78-54.
Tre Bowman led the New York-based school with a game-high 29 points on 11-13 shooting and 4-6 from 3-point range. Sean Armand, the Iona career 3-point record holder, finished with 20 points on 5-8 from long range.
The loss was just the second for the Eagles at home dating back to last year as FGCU is now 18-2 in its past 20 contests in Alico Arena. The setback also snapped a nine-game home-court winning streak and was the first defeat at The Nest to a non-conference opponent in 16 games, going back all the way to the 2010-11 campaign.
The Green and Blue will next travel across the state to Miami to take on FIU Saturday, Dec. 7, at 4 p.m. The game will air nationally on FOX Sports 1, representing FGCU’s third national TV broadcast of the year already. Additionally, the Dirty Birds will be making their first road trip of the season, and more information about the migration can be acquired by emailing Gabby Montecalvo at firstname.lastname@example.org.
GAME NOTES: Redshirt junior Eric McKnight, who started 34 games last year for FGCU, remains indefinitely suspended for a violation of team rules after serving a minimum six-game suspension to start the year … 92 percent of FGCU’s scoring came from Comer, Thompson, Cvjeticanin and Fieler … Fieler also added six rebounds … the Eagles went 7-19 (36.8 percent) from 3-point range … FGCU out-scored Iona in the paint, 38-36 … the attendance was listed as 3,779 despite FGCU students remaining on Thanksgiving Break … FGCU will make the return trip to Iona next season.
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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.