(9-10, 2-4 A-Sun)
(12-8, 6-1 A-Sun)
1/18/2014 | Alico Arena (Fort Myers, FL) | Attendance: 4605
|Stats at a Glance||ETSU||FGCU|
|3P FG Percentage||.300
DUNK CITY, Fla. – The FGCU men’s basketball team (12-8, 6-1 Atlantic Sun Conference) put on a show in the opening 12 minutes and flew to a 90-62 win over visiting ETSU (9-10, 2-4 A-Sun) Saturday night in front of another Alico Arena capacity crowd to remain tied atop the league standings.
Bernard Thompson (Conyers, Ga./Rockdale County HS) led FGCU with 21 points on his 21st birthday while Eric McKnight (Raleigh, N.C./Princeton Day Academy/Iowa State) finished one point shy of his career high with 14. Nate Hicks (Panama City Beach, Fla./J.R. Arnold HS) missed a double-double by two rebounds with 10 points and eight rebounds, and Filip Cvjeticanin (Zagreb, Croatia/American School of Madrid) narrowly missed his as well with 10 points and nine rebounds.
Chase Fieler (Parkersburg, W. Va./Parkersburg South HS) became the program’s all-time leader in rebounding as he grabbed 10 – his sixth double-digit rebounding performance of the campaign. The Eagles’ lone senior came into the contest needing only three boards to surpass Sherwood Brown’s record of 589 and now has 597 for his career, three short of becoming the program’s first player with 1,000 points and 600 rebounds.
The Eagles lived up to their Dunk City moniker, particularly in the first 10 minutes and 20 seconds of the night as they slammed home five dunks, including a pair of alley-oops from Comer to McKnight. Those finishes helped FGCU run out to a 32-9 start after the first 12 minutes, and the Green and Blue never led by fewer than 18 the rest of the contest as they earned their 23rd win in the last 25 tries at The Nest.
“I thought our defense early was able to get some stops and guys did a good job of attacking the zone and got the ball to the rim,” head coach Joe Dooley said. “Brett, Chase and Bernard got the ball inside to Eric and Nate early in the game and that set the tempo. I thought that we were also fortunate East Tennessee missed some shots. They had some looks, and sometimes it doesn’t go your way early and you struggle.
“They did a good job and they played much better in the second half,” Dooley continued. “But we maintained our composure and kept our foot on the gas for the most part.”
For the second-straight game FGCU finished with its second-largest crowd of the season as 4,605 spectators filled a standing-room-only Alico. FGCU posted a season-high point total on the strength of 52-percent shooting from the floor (29-56). The Eagles finished the night with a season-high seven dunks, but also got the job done at the defensive end as they held ETSU to 29.4-percent shooting (20-68), the lowest for a Division-I FGCU opponent this year.
The game was tied, 6-6, before the Eagles went on a 9-0 spurt in less than two minutes to take a 15-6 lead at the 14:40 mark. After an ETSU 3-pointer made it 15-9, FGCU locked in defensively and took advantage against the Buccaneers’ zone, going on a 17-0 run over the next seven minutes to put the game out of reach.
FGCU held a 38-22 advantage off points in the paint. Dating back to the 2011-12 season, the Eagles have now won 20 straight games when holding at least a 15-point edge off points in the paint.
The 28-point win was FGCU’s second-largest of the season and biggest against an A-Sun opponent since a 31-point triumph over Stetson last January. The margin of victory is also the largest in series history as the Eagles have now won three out of the last five meetings between the two after winning just once in the first seven meetings.
ETSU was led by Rashawn Rembert with 18 points, while Kinard Gadsden-Gilliard tallied 11 as the only Bucs’ double-figure scorers. The Buccaneers shot just 16 percent (6-37) in the first half, and nine of their 20 field goals for the game came from beyond the arc.
Brett Comer (Winter Park, Fla./Winter Park HS) was playing with a mask after breaking his nose on Thursday, but didn’t slow down a bit, stirring FGCU’s first-half flurry as he issued five assists in the first 10 minutes and finished with seven. Fieler added eight points on the evening and issued three assists, while Comer tallied six points in 22 minutes.
Jamail Jones (Atlanta, Ga./Montverde Academy/Marquette) added nine points, four rebounds and a career-best four assists. Dajuan Graf (Charlotte, N.C./Phillip O. Berry Academy) tallied nine points and issued three assists against three turnovers and now has 24 assists and only five turnovers in A-Sun play.
Both teams finished below their season average for turnovers as ETSU committed just 10 and FGCU only 11. But the difference came in how the two clubs took advantage of those as the Eagles turned those 10 giveaways into 18 points while the Bucs mustered only seven.
The win now sets up a primetime showdown with fellow A-Sun frontrunner Mercer on Thursday night. Both clubs are 6-1 in the league and have met in the A-Sun Championship each of the past two years. The Eagles claimed the title by winning on Mercer’s home floor last year, and two years ago eliminated the Bears on their home court in the semifinals. Tipoff is set for 7 p.m. from Macon, Ga., and the game will be broadcast on ASun.TV.
GAME NOTES: All 12 players who dressed saw game action … Kevin Boyle knocked down his fourth 3-pointer of the year … two of Graf’s five 3-pointers on the season came Saturday night … FGCU won the rebounding battle, 46-36 … FGCU shot 75 percent from the free-throw line (24-32) … Comer and ETSU’s A.J. Merriweather were called for off-setting technicals in the second half … FGCU tied a season high with 12 fastbreak points … TeJai Allen grabbed his first career rebound … Boyle corralled his first career offensive rebound … the arena record is 4,633 set against Ave Maria in November, and that total includes FGCU’s maximum standing-room-only tickets, of which only a few remained on Saturday.
All 2013-14 men’s basketball season tickets are selling quickly, and only a limited amount remain. Fans can reserve their seat(s) by visiting the Alico Arena Ticket Office, calling 239-590-7145 or logging on to FGCUAthletics.com/Tickets.
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