12/17/2013 | Tampa, Fla. (Sun Dome) | Attendance: 4105
|Stats at a Glance||FGCU||USF|
|3P FG Percentage||.320
TAMPA – A full-court heave by Jamail Jones and basket by Chase Fieler with .3 seconds remaining Tuesday night would have forced triple overtime, but officials ruled that Fieler’s shot was not a tip-in, giving USF (7-2) a 68-66 win over FGCU (5-5) and dampening Division-I program record performances of 32 points from Bernard Thompson and 19 rebounds from Nate Hicks.
Thompson (Conyers, Ga./Rockdale County HS) entered the game just eight points shy of 1,000 for his career, and far surpassed that as he broke Fieler’s record of 30 set last month. The junior became the fourth player in program history reach the milestone and just the second in the D-I era (2007-08), with the other being 2013 graduate Sherwood Brown.
As for Hicks (Panama City Beach, Fla./J.R. Arnold HS), the redshirt junior matched the all-time program record for rebounds and set the D-I program record as all 19 of his boards came on the defensive end. The Georgia Tech transfer did not score a point, but added five blocks and helped guide the Eagles to a 51-43 rebounding edge over the taller Bulls.
With a 7-3 defender guarding Jones (Atlanta, Ga./Montverde Academy) on the in-bounds play, the Marquette transfer heaved a pass nearly 100 feet with his right hand perfectly onto a cutting Fieler (Parkersburg, W. Va./Parkersburg South HS) along the baseline. FGCU’s lone senior leapt in the air, turned his body to face the basket, received the ball and tossed up an effort which hit the side of the rim and bounced through the net.
Officials immediately ruled the basket no good, but then looked at the replay to see if – in their judgment – Fieler had caught the ball and then shot it, something not allowed with .3 seconds or less remaining. Using the replay, officials upheld their original call and the Eagles began their Continental Tire Las Vegas Classic with a hard-fought setback.
Fieler’s shot left his fingertips before the light on the backboard came on; however, NCAA rules dictate that a player cannot catch and shoot a ball with .3 seconds or less on the clock – it can only be a tip-in. If the clock had .4 on it, Fieler’s shot would have counted and the Eagles would have played their first triple-overtime contest since the 2010-11 campaign.
“It was a heck of a college basketball game,” head coach Joe Dooley said. “I think both teams competed at a high level and both teams had spurts where they seemingly took control of the game before the other team battled back. I’m very proud of our effort. If we can clean up some of the mistakes and give that type of effort on a consistent basis I think we’ll be pretty good.”
Fieler recorded his second consecutive double-double with 10 points and 11 rebounds, while also adding three assists. Junior guard Brett Comer (Winter Park, Fla./Winter Park HS), the reigning Atlantic Sun Player of the Week, stuffed the stat sheet with 17 points, eight assists and five rebounds.
Thompson connected on 13-23 from the field, tying Fieler’s D-I program record for made field goals. Six of those came from the 3-point arc, tying his career high in that category, while surpassing his previous career high in points by eight. The Georgia native also grabbed seven rebounds, tying his season high, and played all 50 minutes – the only player on either team to do so.
With less than a minute remaining in regulation, FGCU found itself trailing by two, 55-53, until Thompson pulled up from just inside the top of the arc and drained a jumper to knot the contest for the eighth time on the evening, 55-55. An ensuing USF game-winning attempt was blocked by the 6-3 Comer with 1 second remaining, forcing the Eagles’ first overtime contest since Jan. 17 of last year against Lipscomb.
In the first overtime, both teams struggled offensively and only scored two points apiece. FGCU took a 57-55 advantage on a Comer lay-in at the 3:50 mark, and the score remained that way until 36 seconds showed and USF’s Chris Perry converted a layup. Comer’s 3-point effort as time expired just missed, and came after the ball was knocked loose, prompting the junior to toss the ball up at the rim off-balanced.
In the second overtime, FGCU took a 61-58 lead just a little more than a minute in on a Thompson jumper. USF built a lead as large as five, 66-61, with only 29 ticks remaining, but the Eagles eventually cut that deficit all the way down to one, 67-66, with 1 second left. Anthony Collins was fouled with .8 remaining and stepped to the free-throw line where he made 1-of-2, missing the second and prompting Dooley to call timeout immediately after Fieler grabbed the rebound cleanly – with .3 seconds left.
USF was led by a double-double from Victor Rudd with 23 points and 14 rebounds, while Perry just missed a double-double after 10 points and nine boards. John Egbunu concluded the trio of double-figure scorers with 12 points.
FGCU was in search of its 200th all-time win but fell behind early, 12-7, before mounting a 10-0 run over the next six minutes to take a 17-12 lead with a little more than six minutes on the first-half clock. USF eventually fought back and took a 23-21 lead into the half, but not before Jones – who added eight rebounds – threw down a one-handed baseline slam after grabbing a rebound off his own miss.
Trailing 35-30 roughly five minutes into the second half, the Eagles went on a 14-0 run spanning six minutes to take a 44-35 lead at the 9:40 mark. But the Bulls – in their first season as a member of the American Athletic Conference – fought back and eventually carried a two-point lead into the final 30 seconds before Thompson’s top-of-the-key jumper.
Tuesday’s game was FGCU’s fourth national TV appearance of the year already as the contest appeared on ESPNU. Prior to this season, the Eagles only had one regular-season national TV broadcast, and that came last year at Duke on ESPNU. FGCU has played on the Big Ten Network, ESPN2 and Fox Sports 1 so far this year, in addition to a regional game on CSS.
FGCU will now travel early Wednesday morning to Starkville, Miss. before facing Mississippi State on Thursday at 9 p.m. Eastern. The game will be shown on CSS, representing FGCU’s sixth regional or national TV appearance of the year already.
GAME NOTES: FGCU shot 32 percent (8-25) in the first half compared with 58.3 percent (14-24) in the second half … for the game the Eagles shot 41.5 percent (27-65) … the Green and Blue attempted 25 3-pointers, making eight of them (32 percent) … USF shot just 20 percent from 3 (3-15), but out-scored the Eagles in the paint, 40-30.
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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.