(6-16, 4-6 A-Sun)
(14-9, 8-2 A-Sun)
1/31/2014 | Alico Arena (Fort Myers, FL) | Attendance: 4633
|Stats at a Glance||STET||FGCU|
|3P FG Percentage||.350
DUNK CITY, Fla. – Bernard Thompson hit a game-winning 3-pointer with 2.4 seconds remaining Friday night and Brett Comer stole the ensuing inbounds pass to seal a 71-68 FGCU win as the Eagles (14-9, 8-2 Atlantic Sun Conference) defeated Stetson (6-16, 4-6 A-Sun) behind the strength of Chase Fieler’s sixth double-double of the season.
Stetson, which had won three of four entering the night, tied the game on a put-back with 22 seconds left. After FGCU head coach Joe Dooley called time, Comer (Winter Park, Fla./Winter Park HS) started to drive but was cut off at the elbow and shoveled a pass to Thompson (Conyers, Ga./Rockdale County HS) who had relocated to the wing right in front of the Eagles’ bench. The junior pulled up and knocked down a contested effort (photo, left) for the final of his team-high 17 points to keep FGCU within a game of first-place Mercer (9-1) in the A-Sun standings.
Fieler (Parkersburg, W. Va./Parkersburg South HS) finished with a career-high 14 rebounds to go along with 15 points on an efficient 5-8 from the floor and 5-6 from the free-throw line. The Eagles’ lone senior capped a great all-around game with a season-best four assists and season-high-tying three steals in 38 minutes of action.
Comer tallied 13 points and issued four assists to move into seventh place on the A-Sun’s all-time career assist list with 537. Jamail Jones (Atlanta, Ga./Montverde Academy/Marquette) put together one of his best games in league play with 13 points – just his second double-figure point performance in the last 17 games.
“I thought we got off to a good start; we had really good energy and the crowd was terrific,” Dooley commented. “But after that we got in foul trouble, and for the most part Stetson controlled the game. We did a great job fighting back in, but their effort in the second half – especially on the offensive backboard – really put us in harms way. But we were able to put them away and did a good job finishing at the end.”
A record-tying 4,633 spectators filled Alico Arena to capacity as for only the second time in program history FGCU completely sold out of its standing-room-only ticket allotment, and it did so nearly an hour before tipoff.
Feeding off that frenzied crowd, FGCU set the tempo early as it won the opening tip and Comer threw a pass ahead to Eric McKnight (Raleigh, N.C./Princeton Day Academy/Iowa State) for a dunk just six seconds into the contest. With the game tied, 7-7, the Eagles rattled off nine straight points – capped by a Thompson 3-pointer – to take a 16-7 lead and force Stetson into its first timeout of the night.
After the Hatters got their deficit back to six, 18-12, the Green and Blue went on a 10-1 run – including an 8-0 spurt by Comer alone which included back-to-back 3-pointers – to open up their largest lead of the night at 28-13.
However, better defense from Stetson and four FGCU players with two fouls in the first half, including three starters, allowed the Hatters to get back into the contest and only trail by five at the half, 36-31. Stetson then commenced the second half on a 9-3 run to take its first lead of the game at 40-39.
Jones hit a 3-pointer to put the Eagles back in front, but Stetson continued to battle and eventually created a 54-49 lead – its largest of the evening – with 10 minutes to play. FGCU responded with an 8-0 run to go back up three, 57-54. A Stetson layup made it 57-56, but the Eagles then rattled off another run – this time a 6-0 stretch – to open up a seven-point edge, 63-56, with 5:30 to play after a McKnight alley-oop from Comer.
However, the Hatters had one final run in them as they also erased a seven-point deficit, 68-61, in the final 3 minutes, holding the Eagles without a point in the final 3:19 until Thompson’s heroics.
Kentwan Smith also recorded a double-double with 22 points and 10 rebounds to lead a quartet of Stetson double-figure scorers. Willie Green netted 16, Aaron Graham tallied 13 and Raymone Andrews finished with 10. Smith also recorded five steals as Stetson finished with nine for the game.
Dajuan Graf (Charlotte, N.C./Phillip O. Berry Academy) continued his steady play in A-Sun action with four points, four rebounds, three assists and one steal off the bench in 26 minutes of action.
The win improves FGCU’s record in Alico to 24-2 over the past 26 games dating back to the 2011-12 campaign. The Eagles are also now 9-1 in The Nest this season and have won 11 straight A-Sun games in the friendly confines.
For the game, FGCU shot 50 percent from the field (26-52), but struggled from the free-throw line (57 percent, 13-23). The Eagles entered having connected on at least 75 percent of their attempts from the charity stripe in each of the previous four games.
FGCU hosts Jacksonville and UNF next Thursday, Feb. 6, and Saturday, Feb. 8, respectively. The Eagles will be looking to avenge one of their two A-Sun losses against the Dolphins on Thursday. Both games will be broadcast on ESPN3, and fans and students are strongly encouraged to secure their tickets in advance.
GAME NOTES: The game was broadcast on CSS, marking FGCU’s eighth TV appearance of the year already … FGCU was without junior Filip Cvjeticanin who is suspended for three games (including the next two) for a violation of team rules … six of Fieler’s rebounds came on the offensive end … Stetson turned 14 FGCU turnovers into 18 points … after FGCU led the entire first half, the score was tied six times and changed hands on six occasions in the second half alone.
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.
For up-to-the-minute information and behind-the-scenes access to the men’s basketball program, follow @FGCU_MBB on Twitter and Instagram, and “Like” us on Facebook at /FGCUMBB.