FGCU Set For A-Sun Championship Showdown With Belmont on ESPN2
Saturday, March 03, 2012 | by Patrick Pierson (pierson_sid)
Head coach Andy Enfield has led FGCU to the A-Sun Championship in his first season.
Head coach Andy Enfield has led FGCU to the A-Sun Championship in his first season.
Florida Gulf Coast (15-17)
Belmont (27-7)
3/3/2012 | Macon, Ga. - University Center | Attendance: 1121
Florida Gulf Coast422769
Stats at a GlanceFGCUBEL
FG Percentage.413 (26-63) .466 (27-58)
3P FG Percentage.276 (8-29) .381 (8-21)
FT Percentage.563 (9-16) .840 (21-25)
Offensive Rebounds710
Defensive Rebounds2334
Total Rebounds3044
Bench Points2618
Statistical LeadersFGCUBEL
PointsCOMER - 20
CLARK - 16
ReboundsCANTINOL - 6
AssistsCOMER - 7
StealsCANTINOL - 2
BlocksCANTINOL - 3

No. 6 FGCU (15-16, 8-10 A-SUN) vs. No. 1 Belmont (26-7, 16-2 A-SUN)
ROUND: A-Sun Championship
DATE: Saturday, March 3, 2012
CITY: Macon, Ga.
SITE: University Center (3,200)
TIP-OFF: 7:00 p.m. ET
TALENT: Adam Amin & Bob Valvano
RADIO: ESPN 770AM - Fort Myers
www.770ESPN.com & www.FGCUATHLETICS.com
TALENT: David Moulton (P-B-P) & Mark Miller (Analyst)
TWITTER: @fgcueagles/#FGCU/#MaconMadness
SERIES: Belmont leads, 7-2
CURRENT STREAK: Belmont, 4 wins
LAST MEETING: Feb. 11, 2012 - Belmont 86, @FGCU 63
UP NEXT WITH A WIN: A-Sun Automatic Berth Into NCAA Tournament

Sixth-seeded FGCU will look to complete its magical run through the Atlantic Sun Tournament on Saturday night when it takes on top-seeded and reigning conference champ Belmont in the title game. FGCU became the sixth team in the 33-year history of the A-Sun Tournament to advance to the championship game in its first appearance and will now look to be just the fourth team to win the tournament in its first try. The game will be televised live on ESPN2 with Adam Amin and Bob Valvano on the call. Oddly, tonight's game features FGCU, who is in its first A-Sun Tournament, against Belmont, who is playing in its final A-Sun postseason before going to the Ohio Valley Conference. The Eagles are attempting to become the second No. 6 seed to win the A-Sun Tournament and the first team to defeat the top three seeds en route to winning the championship.

On August 22, 2011, all 14 of FGCU’s Division I sports became postseason eligible when the NCAA Division I Board of Directors approved the recommendation from the NCAA Division I Administration Cabinet to elect FGCU to Division I active membership. FGCU began its transition into Division I in 2007-08. Now eligible for Atlantic Sun postseason play and NCAA Tournament, FGCU has already won 13 A-Sun regular titles and four straight Coastal Collegiate Swimming Association (CCSA) championships in just over four years in Division I. The men's & women's soccer teams both won the A-Sun Tournament this past fall to become the first FGCU programs to advance to the NCAA Tournament.

#6 FGCU - 62, #2 Mercer - 58
MACON, Ga. - Fueled by arguably its best defensive performance of the season, the sixth-seeded FGCU men’s basketball team rallied from six points down late in the second half to stun second-seeded Mercer, 62-58, on its home court to advance to the Atlantic Sun Championship. • Playing in front of a University Center record crowd of 3,497 fans, the Eagles (15-16), who defeated third-seeded USC Upstate in the quarterfinals, turned away another top seed in Mercer (22-11) to become just the sixth team in the 33-year history of the A-Sun Tournament to make the championship in its first appearance. • Trailing 54-49 with 6:18 remaining, the Eagles clamped down on the defensive end, holding the Bears without a field goal the rest of the way en route to completing the comeback. FGCU gave up points on just 3-of-12 defensive possessions over the final 6:18 and all four points came at the free throw line. • With near identical stat lines across the board, FGCU’s biggest edge came from the bench where they out-scored the Bears 25-11. CHRISTOPHE VARIDEL’S 13 points came one night after going for 14 against USC Upstate off the bench. The Versoix, Switzerland product’s double figure game was the 36th supplied by the FGCU bench this season, leading the way for the team’s 22nd contest with 25+ points from the pine.

#6 FGCU - 71, #3 USC Upstate - 61
MACON, Ga. - Behind a 24-10 run to open the second half, the sixth-seeded FGCU men’s basketball team erased a seven-point halftime deficit with a strong final 20 minutes to defeat third-seeded USC Upstate, 71-61, on Thursday night in the final Atlantic Sun Tournament quarterfinal contest at the University Center. • As it has been all year, balance was theme for FGCU, as five players reached double figures for the ninth time this season (9-0). Sophomore CHRISTOPHE VARIDEL led the way with 14 points and six rebounds off the bench, marking the 12th time this season the team’s leading scorer has come off the pine. • Just a week removed from giving up 15 three-pointers to the Spartans in an 87-74 loss on Feb. 23, FGCU held USC Upstate to just 5-of-21 from beyond the arc. Full court pressure and a terrific one-on-one defensive job by junior SHERWOOD BROWN on A-Sun Player of the Year Torrey Craig were crucial in the Eagles limiting the Spartans to a 26.8 percent shooting clip (11-41) in the second half. • After shooting 25 percent in the first half, the Green and Blue shot a healthy 53 percent (16-30) in the final stanza that was keyed by a 6-of-9 performance beyond the arc. The Eagles, who were swept by the Spartans in the regular season, out-scored USC Upstate 50-34 in the second half.

A trio of Eagles earned postseason honors from the Atlantic Sun when awards were dished out on Monday evening. Junior SHERWOOD BROWN - one of two players in the A-Sun in the top 10 in both scoring and rebounding - earned a spot on the All-Conference second team, while rookies BRETT COMER and BERNARD THOMPSON occupied two of the five spots on the A-Sun All-Freshmen team. Brown is the team leader in both scoring (12.9) and rebounding (5.9), figures that are ninth and eighth in the A-Sun, respectively. A unanimous All-Freshmen choice, Thompson averages 11.6 points, while leading all conference rookies in rebounding (5.2) and steals (1.8). Comer leads the A-Sun in assists (5.6) and is second among freshman nationally, while producing 8.7 points per contest. FGCU has placed a player on the All-Conference second team two years in a row and at least one rookie on the All-Freshmen team three consecutive years.

The A-Sun regular season and 2011 tournament champ, Belmont will be making its fifth title game appearance in the last seven years. The Bruins are a perfect 4-4 in the A-Sun Championship and enter Saturday's showdown on a 13-game win streak. The top scoring team (81.5) in the A-Sun, Belmont advanced through the tournament with a quarterfinal win over No. 8 Jacksonville and a hard-fought 69-61 win against No. 4 ETSU in the semifinals. Led by legendary head coach Rick Byrd, the Bruins are the only team in the A-Sun with four players averaging double figure points.

FGCU's freshmen class has made a huge impact in their first season, accounting for 48 percent of the scoring (34.5), 36 percent of the rebounds (12.8) and 64 percent of the assists (8.6). At least one of the four freshmen has scored in double figures in 27 of 31 games, while the Eagles are 8-2 when three members of the quartet accomplish the feat. Led by combo guard BERNARD THOMPSON'S 11.6 points per game, freshmen account for three the Green and Blue's top five scorers. Against Kennesaw State and Stetson, four freshmen reached double figures - the most in a single game in program history and the only two times this season in the nation .

Freshmen BERNARD THOMPSON and BRETT COMER made strong cases for A-Sun Freshman of the Year and found their way onto the All-Freshmen team. Thompson leads all A-Sun rookies in rebounding (5.2) and steals (1.9), while ranking second in scoring (11.6) - figures that are all in the top 20 in the A-Sun. Comer leads the league in assists (5.6) and is fifth among freshman in scoring (8.7). Thompson has led FGCU in scoring 10 times thanks to a team-best 22 double figure outings, while Comer has been the team leader in assists 28 times. Freshman FILIP CVJETICANIN ranks third in the A-Sun and first among freshman in three-point percentage (.431). Thompson won the A-Sun Newcomer of the Week award two times, including the final one of the season, while Comer earned the accolade once.

A season-best six players reached double figures for the second time this year in FGCU's win over Lipscomb, while at least five players have done so in nine times (9-0), and the Eagles are 10-4 when four or more players reach double-digits in the same game. Freshman BRETT COMER'S 24 points at Stetson were the most by an Eagle this season as he became the fourth player to reach the 20 point plateau. A total of eight players have reached double-digits this season, while seven have done so at least 10 times. Six different players have led the team in scoring at least once.

FGCU averages 28.4 points per game off the bench. The bench has supplied a double figure scorer in 26 games, including the team's leading scorer on 12 occasions, while scoring 25+ points 22 times as a unit. At SMU, sophomore CHRISTOPHE VARIDEL poured in 20 points on 6-of-7 from three-point land and turned in another 20-point game against Maine to account for the top two bench efforts. Against Longwood, the bench produced 49 points for their third 40+ point night of the season. FGCU has won the battle of the benches in 26 of 31 games.

One of just two players in the Atlantic Sun that ranks in the top 10 in scoring and rebounding, junior SHERWOOD BROWN has upped his game since being inserted back into the starting lineup 13 games ago. Over the last 13 games, Brown has reached double figures 12 times with a trio of 20-point efforts and a pair of double-doubles. The Orlando product's 14.2 points and 6.6 rebounds over the 13 games have put him into ninth in the A-Sun in scoring (12.9) and eighth in rebounding (5.9).

Named the A-Sun Player of the Week on Jan. 31, junior SHERWOOD BROWN leads the team in both scoring (12.9) and rebounding (5.9). With team-bests of four 20-point games and three double-doubles, Brown has reached double figures 20 times in 27 contests and ranks among the A-Sun leaders in nine different categories. He has led the team in scoring 11 times, rebounding in 12 games and both in the same contest on seven occasions. Brown is vying to become the third player in FGCU history to lead the team in scoring and rebounding in the same season. All rankings are from regular season.

Second in the A-Sun at a 37.8 percent clip from three-point range and third with 7.8 treys per game, FGCU boasts four players in the top 10 individually by percentage. Sophomore CHRISTOPHE VARIDEL is second in the A-Sun (.438), freshman FILIP CVJETICANIN in third (.431), freshman BERNARD THOMPSON is ninth (.385) and junior SHERWOOD BROWN (.376) is 10th.

Highlighted by a program Division I record 64.7 percent shooting night (33-51) at Stetson on Jan. 20, FGCU is third in the A-Sun in field goal percentage (.457) and second in three-point percentage (.378). The Eagles have been held below 40 percent in a game just seven times (1-6), while going 8-1 when breaking the 50-percent plateau. FGCU shot 50 percent or better in three straight games (@Stetson, Longwood, Kennesaw State), a program Division I record and just the fourth time in the 10 years of the program it has been accomplished. The Green and Blue's current 45.7 field goal percentage is on pace to break the single-season record.

Freshman BRETT COMER leads the A-Sun, is second among all freshmen and 36th nationally in assists per game (5.5). Highlighted by his 12-assist night against Longwood, Comer is the first A-Sun player since 2007 to have four double figure assist games in the same season. He has led the team in assists in all but three games and has passed out seven or more helpers 10 times. His 171 assists on the season rank fifth in single-season history and are three off the D-1 record, while he is trying to become the first freshman to lead the league in assists since Mercer's James Florence did so in 2006-07.