(13-13, 7-6 A-Sun)
(16-9, 10-2 A-Sun)
2/8/2014 | Alico Arena (Fory Myers, Fla.) | Attendance: 4633
|Stats at a Glance||UNF||FGCU|
|3P FG Percentage||.211
DUNK CITY, Fla. – Playing in front of yet another standing-room-only sellout crowd, the FGCU men’s basketball team (16-9, 10-2 Atlantic Sun Conference) once again put on a show – and this time at both ends of the floor – as the Eagles flew away from the University of North Florida (13-13, 7-6 A-Sun) Saturday night with a 73-46 win to move back to the top of the league standings.
Bernard Thompson (Conyers, Ga./Rockdale County HS) and Chase Fieler (Parkersburg, W. Va./Parkersburg South HS) each scored 17 points to lead the Eagles, while Brett Comer (Winter Park, Fla./Winter Park HS) just missed a double-double with 10 points and nine assists.
A 29-4 run to start the second half extended what was already a double-digit FGCU halftime lead and put the game completely out of reach in the early stages of the stanza. The Eagles shot a blistering 54.7 percent (29-53), their second straight game above 54 percent as they pulled even with Mercer (19-6, 10-2) and created a three-game separation between the third-place ETSU (14-11, 7-5) and USC Upstate (14-11, 7-5).
“We obviously got off to a fast start, got some stops and turnovers and turned them into transition points, which got us a good lead,” head coach Joe Dooley said. “I thought we withstood a dry spell, they went on an 8-0 run and then from there we sort of teetered around and controlled the first half. At the start of the second half our guys were locked back in, we got some guys (from UNF) in foul trouble and we were able to clamp down defensively and were pretty efficient offensively.”
FGCU stormed out to a fast start, and for the third straight game Comer found Eric McKnight (Raleigh, N.C./Princeton Day Academy/Iowa State) for a near-dunk not even 10 seconds in. Subsequent fast-break dunks by Thompson and Jamail Jones (Atlanta, Ga./Montverde Academy/Marquette) off UNF turnovers followed, forcing the Ospreys into an early timeout.
After the two teams went back-and-forth for the next few minutes, FGCU produced an extended 14-3 run to turn a 13-7 game into a 27-10 contest at the 10-minute mark. However, the Ospreys used an 8-0 run late in the half and pulled within 11 at the break, 38-27.
The aforementioned quick start to the second frame commenced with a 13-0 run in the first five minutes, capped by an emphatic Comer to Nate Hicks (Panama City Beach, Fla./J.R. Arnold HS/Georgia Tech) alley-oop – one of three the junior set up on the night. After a pair of UNF free throws briefly halted the stretch and made it a 51-29 score, the Eagles turned it right back on with nine points in a row before UNF got its first field goal of the second half at the 11:21 mark. FGCU then scored seven more unanswered points to open up a 67-31 advantage with 9:52 to play and cruised from there.
The 46 points are a season low defensively for the Eagles, and represent the fifth-best single-game performance in a conference game in program history. After connecting at a 40-percent clip from the floor in the first half (10-25), UNF was limited to just 27.3 percent in the second half (6-22) as FGCU held the Ospreys to only 19 second-half points – its lowest point total in any half this year.
Thompson, who now has 1,251 career points, moved into second place on the program’s all-time scoring list and is 116 behind leader Ryan Hopkins (1,367).
Jones and McKnight each finished with eight points, while Fieler grabbed six rebounds, issued a season-high-tying four assists for the third straight game and recorded a game-high three steals. Hicks scored just three points but corralled a team-best seven rebounds as FGCU overcame an early rebounding deficit to finish with a 37-30 edge on the glass.
Dajuan Graf (Charlotte, N.C./Phillip O. Berry Academy) continued his consist play with six points, three rebounds and three assists against no turnovers off the bench. Backcourt counterpart Comer only turned the ball over once himself to go along with those nine assists, representing his second-best assist-to-turnover ratio of the campaign (8/0 vs. Hartford).
The Green and Blue dominated the paint and concluded the evening with a 40-18 edge in the key. FGCU is now 23-0 in its last 23 games dating back to 2011-12 when out-scoring its opponent in the paint by at least 15 points.
The standing-room-only crowd of 4,633 is FGCU’s third of the year, and eighth overall sellout (4,333). Prior to this season, Alico Arena had only one such sellout (Miami last year) and never a standing-room-only sellout.
The Eagles now head out on the road for two crucial games against ETSU on Thursday, Feb. 13, and USC Upstate on Saturday, Feb. 15. Both teams are tied for third place in the league standings at 7-5, and both contests present potential tie-breaking scenarios for next month’s A-Sun Championship.
GAME NOTES: FGCU was without the services of Filip Cvjeticanin, who was serving the final game of a three-game suspension for a violation of team rules … FGCU donned red socks in conjunction with the American Heart Association’s National Wear “Red” Day which took place on Friday … Marcus Blake scored a career-high-tying four points and set a career high by grabbing six rebounds in just 12 minutes off the bench on his 22nd birthday … FGCU out-scored UNF in fastbreak points, 18-4 … the Eagles never trailed … FGCU forced UNF into 22 turnovers … the Green and Blue had 22 assists – tied for the second-most in a game this year.
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.