Strong First Half Pushes FGCU to Convincing A-Sun Win Over Jacksonville
Saturday, January 05, 2013 | by Patrick Pierson (@Pierson_SID)
Fieler had two dunks on the night to bring his season total to 32. (Photo by Lindwood Ferguson)
Fieler had two dunks on the night to bring his season total to 32. (Photo by Lindwood Ferguson)
Jacksonville (7-9 (2-1 A-Sun))
Florida Gulf Coast (10-6 (2-1 A-Sun))
1/5/2013 | Fort Myers, Fla. (Alico Arena) | Attendance: 1704
Florida Gulf Coast433578
Stats at a GlanceJUFGCU
FG Percentage.286 (18-63) .443 (27-61)
3P FG Percentage.167 (4-24) .292 (7-24)
FT Percentage.714 (15-21) .708 (17-24)
Offensive Rebounds1814
Defensive Rebounds2332
Total Rebounds4146
Bench Points1331
Statistical LeadersJUFGCU
PointsPOWELL - 19
ReboundsFLEMING - 11
AssistsFLEMING - 4
StealsPOWELL - 2
GRAF - 4
BlocksFIELER - 3

FORT MYERS, Fla. – The FGCU men’s basketball team jumped out to a 43-17 lead at the half and never looked back, as the Eagles limited Jacksonville to a 29 percent night from the field en route to a convincing 78-55 win in its Atlantic Sun home opener on Saturday afternoon at Alico Arena.

FGCU’s 26-point halftime lead was its largest since entering Division I in 2007-08 (167 games), as the Green and Blue improved to 8-0 at home this season, equaling its program Division I record home win streak of eight games. The Eagles now stand at 10-6 on the season, including 2-1 in the A-Sun, while the loss was Jacksonville’s (7-9) first in conference action as it slips to 2-1.

“I was proud of our guy’s effort on the defensive end tonight,” said head coach Andy Enfield. “To hold a team as talented as Jacksonville to 17 first half points, and under 30 percent shooting for the game, is outstanding and when we have that type of defensive effort you will win most of the time.”

Defense was the theme of the night for FGCU, as it marked the first time in 52 games that its held an opponent under 30 percent from the field. Jacksonville’s 29 percent (18-63) night was coupled by 17 turnovers that led to a 20-4 edge in points off miscues for the home team. The A-Sun leader in steals as a team, FGCU reached double figure steals in a game for the eighth time this season, led by four from freshman DaJuan Graf (Charlotte, N.C./Phillip O. Berry Academy).

Sophomore Bernard Thompson (Conyers, Ga./Rockdale County HS) led the Eagles with 18 points, including 12 in the first half, while adding two more steals to his total of 47, which entered the night second in the nation. Junior Christophe Varidel (Versoix, Switzerland/Worcester Prep) scored 13 points to boost FGCU’s 31-13 edge off the pine, while junior Chase Fieler (Parkersburg, W. Va./Parkersburg South HS) had 10 points, a team-high nine rebounds and three blocks.

For the 13th time this season, FGCU reached the 30-point plateau while shooting 44 percent (27-61) from the field and converting 17-of-24 at the free throw line. The Eagles also owned a 46-41 lead on the boards, while their 14 offensive caroms led to 17 second chance points.

FGCU jumped out a 17-4 lead less than nine minutes into the contest, limiting the Dolphins to points in just two of their first 15 possessions. Thompson accounted for eight points during the hot start, knocking down back-to-back triples.

The Eagles gained a double figure lead with 12:29 left in the first half and never relinquished it the rest of the game. Leading 32-15 with five minutes remaining, FGCU closed on an 11-2 run to hold a 43-17 edge after 20 minutes. FGCU has led at the half in seven of eight home games and is 8-1 when leading at the break this season.

Three players finished in double figures for FGCU, while four others had seven or more points. Sophomore Eric McKnight (Raleigh, N.C./Princeton Day Academy/Iowa State) had eight points and seven boards, while senior Sherwood Brown (Orlando, Fla./Olympia HS) chipped in eight points and six rebounds. Sophomore Filip Cvjeticanin (Zagreb, Croatia/American School of Madrid) and Graf each had seven points.

Jacksonville was led by Glenn Powell’s 19 points, while Dylan Fritsch also finished in double-digits with 13 points. The Dolphins gathered 18 offensive rebounds, led by Kordario Fleming’s six offensive boards that led to a game-high 11 caroms.

FGCU will wrap up its A-Sun homestand on Monday when its hosts North Florida (7-9, 2-1 A-Sun) on Monday night at 7:30 p.m.