Stellar Defensive Effort Comes Up Short in 51-50 Loss at Nebraska
|Stats at a Glance||FGCU||NEB|
|FG Percentage||.400 (18-45)||.400 (18-45)|
|3P FG Percentage||.450 (9-20)||.292 (7-24)|
|FT Percentage||.500 (5-10)||.615 (8-13)|
MURRAY - 4
THOMPSON - 3
FIELER - 3
Spencer - 1
MURRAY - 2
BROWN - 2
LINCOLN, Neb. – Dylan Talley’s runner with 10.4 seconds left gave Nebraska a 51-50 lead and FGCU failed to get off the potential game-winning shot, as the Eagles dropped a heartbreaker in Big Ten country on Wednesday night at the Devaney Center.
The Eagles trailed 49-47 with less than three minutes to play until sophomore Christophe Varidel’s (Versoix, Switzerland/Worcester Academy) 100th career three-pointer gave the visitors a one-point edge, 50-49, with 1:23 remaining.
After a stop on the defensive end, sophomore Chase Fieler (Parkersburg, W. Va./Parkersburg South HS) had a chance to give the Eagles a two-possession lead, but his three from the right corner rimmed out to give the ball back to Nebraska.
FGCU stopped Nebraska’s initial play to get the ball inside to Jorge Brian Diaz so Talley retrieved the ball at the right wing and drove the baseline for the runner with 10.4 seconds left.
Following a timeout with 7.1 seconds on the clock, FGCU in-bounded the ball from in front of its bench to freshman Bernard Thompson (Conyers, Ga./Rockdale County HS) who used a stagger screen to drive into the lane. Thompson kicked the ball out to Varidel on the right wing, but he never got the shot off as the buzzer sounded before the ball left his hands.
The loss dips FGCU’s record to 3-6, while the Huskers improve to 5-3. All six of the Eagles’ losses have come on the road by a total of 22 points, including a trio of one-point defeats.
"We've been playing solid defense all season,” said head coach Andy Enfield. “It's a mix between a man and a zone, and our guys really stepped the intensity up in the second half. They made a run early in the second half and got a lead, and we picked the defensive intensity up. We did a better job of rebounding the ball, so I was very proud of our effort. I can't say enough about his team because of the tough schedule, but we have played hard and had a chance to win every game."
For the fifth time this season, FGCU’s top scorer came from the bench, as junior Sherwood Brown (Orlando, Fla./Olympia HS) had 14 points on 6-of-10 from the field over 31 minutes. Freshman Filip Cvjeticanin (Zagreb, Croatia/American School of Madrid) also came off the pine, knocking down a quartet of threes to account for all 12 of his points.
The 50 points given up by FGCU are a season-low, as it limited the Huskers to 40 percent (18-45) from the field and 29 percent (7-24) from three. FGCU’s main defensive focus was on LSU transfer Bo Spencer who was coming off a career-high 29 points against Creighton – his third 20-point game of the season. Spencer was limited to just six points on 2-of-12 from the field and was held without a point the second half.
With the game tied 10-10 following a pair of three-pointers from Brown and Varidel, FGCU senior center Kevin Cantinol (Clearwater, Fla./Calvary Christian HS/Ole Miss) was whistled for a flagrant-2 foul on a three-point miss resulting in his ejection from the game. Nebraska built off the pair of free throws after the ejection, going on a 7-0 run to take 17-10 lead with 11:15 to play.
FGCU began its climb back into the game on the defensive end, holding the Huskers without a point for five possessions over the next three minutes en route to tying the game at 17-17. A three-pointer by Cvjeticanin tied the game at 17-17 with 7:57 left in the half, but was just the start of a string of great possessions for the Croatian.
Following a three-pointer from Spencer, the Eagles reeled off the next 10 points, taking a 27-20 lead with 5:58 left in the first half and in the process forcing Nebraska into a timeout. Cvjeticanin was the catalyst, making it three possessions in a row with a three-pointer for the 6-foot-9 freshman, while a pair layups capped the run that totaled 17-3 over nearly six minutes.
Unfortunately, it was the final points of the half for the Green and Blue, as they failed to light up the scoreboard over the final 5:58, but were still able to take a 27-26 lead into the locker room. The 26 points given up were a first half season-low for the Eagles, limiting the Huskers to 8-of-22 from the field and 10 turnovers.
The defensive battle at the end of opening period spilled over into the second half where the Eagles gave up their slim lead in the opening minutes, but were able to regain it back with 6:20 left despite 15 points over the first 14 minutes.
Thompson’s first two points of the game came at the free throw line to give FGCU a 44-42 lead, an advantage it would hold onto until under four minutes to play. A pair of Nebraska buckets sandwiched around another Thompson free throw gave the Huskers the 49-47 lead, resulting in the dramatic ending.
FGCU finished with an identical 18-of-45 shooting night from the field, but was 9-of-20 from long range. The trio of Brown, Cvjeticanin and Varidel accounted for all nine threes off the bench, leading the bench to 35 of the Green and Blue’s 50 points.
Talley also came off the bench to lead Nebraska in scoring with 14 points, while junior Brandon Ubel recorded a double-double of 10 points and 11 rebounds. Ubel led the charge on the glass for the Huskers who finished with a 32-25 edge.
With finals week hitting the FGCU campus, the Eagles will be off from game action until Monday, Dec. 19, when they play host to fellow Atlantic Sun member USC Upstate. The game is the second part of a doubleheader with the women’s program and will tip off at 7:30 p.m.
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