FGCU Drops Overtime Battle at Mercer, 77-70
|Florida Gulf Coast||30||32||8||70|
|Stats at a Glance||FGCU||MER|
|FG Percentage||.410 (25-61)||.397 (25-63)|
|3P FG Percentage||.360 (9-25)||.355 (11-31)|
|FT Percentage||.733 (11-15)||.889 (16-18)|
HALL - 3
MACON, Ga. – In a rematch of last year’s Atlantic Sun semifinal contest, the FGCU men’s basketball team rallied from eight points down with under three minutes to play to force overtime, but fell in the extra frame to Mercer, 77-70, in a hard-fought contest on Wednesday night at Hawkins Arena.
Trailing 60-52, FGCU held the Bears to just two points over its final six possessions to mount a 10-2 run to force an extra five minutes, highlighted by sophomore Filip Cvjeticanin’s (Zagreb, Croatia/American School of Madrid) fourth three-pointer with 26 seconds left that tied the game at 62-62.
A three on Mercer’s opening possession of overtime by Jakob Gollon gave the home team a lead it wouldn’t relinquish the rest of the way. Junior Chase Fieler’s (Parkersburg, W. Va./Parkersburg South HS) tip-in with 1:17 left closed the score to 70-68, but Mercer made 7-of-8 free throws in the final minute and held the Eagles scoreless on three straight possessions to come away with the win.
“We expected it would be a grind-it-out game,” said head coach Andy Enfield. “It was almost identical to our game last year in the semifinals. We made some defensive mistakes down the stretch and in overtime that gave them two wide-open looks. It was a very good college basketball game and I’m proud of the guys for battling back.”
Both teams received votes in the most recent CollegeInsider.com Mid-Major Top 25 Poll and now stand at 9-6 on the season. FGCU sits at 1-1 in the A-Sun after its opening two-game road swing, while Mercer is 2-0 in the league.
Fieler finished with a team-high 17 points, including 13 in the second half and overtime, while hitting 7-of-8 from the free throw line with six rebounds. Senior Sherwood Brown (Orlando, Fla./Olympia HS) extended his streak of double figure road games to 14 with 16 points on 6-of-11 from the field. Sophomore Bernard Thompson (Conyers, Ga./Rockdale County HS) had 16 points, a team-high seven rebounds and three steals. Thompson is tied for the national lead in steals (47) with VCU’s Briante Weber who had three steals tonight at ETSU.
Mercer was led by reigning A-Sun Player of the Week Travis Smith, who reached the 20-point plateau for the second straight game with 21 points on 7-of-15 from the field. All-Conference point guard Langston Hall had seven of his 17 points in overtime, while Jakob Gallon added 12 points.
FGCU won nearly even miscellaneous statistic, including an 11-0 edge in fast break points, but made two less three-pointers and five less free throws. Both teams made 25 field goals, as the Eagles shot 41 percent (25-61) and Mercer finished at a 40 percent clip (25-63). FGCU joins Wake Forest as the only teams to score 70 points against the Bears this season.
Trailing 8-4 just over two minutes into the game, FGCU mounted a 10-0 run behind Brown and Thompson, who accounted for all 10 points that flipped a six-point deficit into a 14-8 lead in less than three minutes. A jumper and three-pointer by Thompson gave the Eagles’ the lead, while Brown finished things off with a trifecta and a dunk.
FGCU didn’t trail over the final 15:39 of the opening period, but was able to break a 28-28 tie on its final possession of the first half on a well-drawn up out-of-bounds play that freed Fieler for a layup. FGCU took a 30-28 advantage into the locker room as it was 7-0 when leading at the half coming into the contest.
After the first half featured just two lead changes, the opening 10 minutes of second half yielded five. Cvjeticanin’s three from the right corner made it 45-44 in favor of FGCU with 11:34 to play, but Smith’s free throws two possessions later gave Mercer a 46-45 lead that it would never give up.
Cvjeticanin was FGCU’s fourth player in double figures for FGCU with 14 points off the bench, as the 6-foot-9 Croatian knocked down 4-of-10 from three-point land to give him 10 threes in the last three contests.
FGCU will have just two days off before it opens its A-Sun home slate against Jacksonville (7-8, 2-0 A-Sun) on Saturday, Jan. 5. Tip at Alico Arena is slated for 2 p.m.
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