FGCU Holds On For Another Thrilling Win Against Stetson
FORT MYERS, Fla. – Sophomore Sherwood Brown’s (Orlando, Fla./Olympia HS) career-high 18 points led four players in double figures for FGCU as they Eagles fought off Atlantic Sun foe Stetson for another dramatic 64-60 win in the in-state rivalry on Monday night at Alico Arena.
The win is the third in a row for the Eagles at Alico Arena and against the Hatters, improving their record to 8-19 overall and 5-12 in the A-Sun. FGCU also completes the season sweep of Stetson with the win, their second season sweep in three days after turning away Campbell for the second time on Saturday night.
The two teams battled through three overtimes in the first meeting this season in DeLand, Fla. with the Eagles coming out on top, 111-103. With the Eagles three straight wins over Stetson, the series is now tied at 4-4. Six of the eight meetings have been decided by 10 points or less.
With the score tied at 59-59, FGCU turned to All-Conference forward Anthony Banks (Lantana, Fla./Santaluces HS) for two straight buckets, including a dunk with 16 seconds remaining that gave the Eagles a full-possession lead, at 63-60.
Ridge Graham’s game-tying three-pointer with under 10 seconds left caromed off the back of the rim and junior Marlon Rivera (Rio Piedras, Puerto Rico/Sagemont HS/Santa Fe CC) secured his eighth rebound of the game. Rivera then secured FGCU’s second straight win by making it a two-possession lead with four seconds on the clock, 64-60, by making the front end of a one-and-one.
Rivera’s all-around game from the point guard position was crucial in the win, as he finished with 12 points, eight rebounds and five assists. With the ball in his hands for 36 minutes, Rivera helped FGCU commit a season-low four turnovers en route to out-scoring the Hatters 21-4 in points off miscues.
The FGCU starting lineup accounted for 62 of the team’s 64 points. Brown registered 13 of his game-high 18 points in the second half, knocking down 4-of-9 from three. Brown also added six rebounds. Banks went 6-of-10 from the field to finish with 14 points and six rebounds. Freshman Christophe Varidel (Versoix, Switzerland/Worcester Academy) rounded out the double figure scorers with 10 points.
Aaron Graham led Stetson with 17 points on five three-pointers. Ridge Graham, who took the team’s game-tying three attempt, had a double-double with 12 points and a game-high 12 rebounds.
FGCU raced out to a 10-2 lead behind five buckets from Rivera and Varidel. After being held to just one field goal between the two of them in their last game, the duo notched the team’s first 10 points on jumpers and layups.
The Eagles maintained the lead over the next 10 minutes until an 8-0 Stetson run turned the 20-14 FGCU advantage into a 22-20 lead for the visitors with 6:40 on the clock.
Brown quickly got the Blue and Green out of the deficit with a layup to tie the game at 22-22 followed by a three-pointer from the right wing to give FGCU a 25-22 lead.
A three-pointer from Varidel stretched the Eagles’ lead to 29-24 with 4:03 remaining, but unfortunately, it was FGCU’s last points of the frame. Stetson took advantage of the home team’s offensive lull by closing the period on a 10-0 run to take a 34-29 lead at the half. The Eagles got 16 of their 29 points in the half in the paint.
FGCU turned to the long range field goal in the second half, as back-to-back three-pointers by Brown and Varidel to open the second half quickly put an end to the 10-0 Stetson run and gave the lead back to FGCU, at 35-34. Stetson attempted to stop the momentum by calling a timeout less than a minute and half into the period, but Brown kept firing with two more threes to cap a 12-2 run by the Eagles to open the half. The end result was a 41-36 for FGCU with 17:14 remaining.
Stetson fought back from a deficit that reached as large as seven on three occasions to tie the game at 59-59.
Junior Kevin Cantinol (Guadeloupe, French West Indies/Calvary Christian/Ole Miss) made his first start since Jan. 16 against Mercer, finishing with eight points and a team-high nine rebounds.
FGCU will get just two days off until it welcomes another in-state A-Sun foe to Alico Arena. Third place Jacksonville (19-8, 13-5) will make its way to campus on Thursday, Feb. 24 at 7:30 p.m. as part of doubleheader with the women’s program.
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