Behind Hicks and Second-Half Spurt, @FGCU_MBB Runs Away From Eckerd
|Stats at a Glance||ECM||FGCU|
|FG Percentage||.291 (16-55)||.565 (26-46)|
|3P FG Percentage||.400 (8-20)||.467 (7-15)|
|FT Percentage||.625 (15-24)||.481 (13-27)|
BLAKE - 1
DUNK CITY, Fla. – On the strength of all five starters scoring in double figures and a career night from Nate Hicks, the FGCU men’s basketball team (3-1) turned a tight game midway through the second half into an easy 72-55 win over Eckerd (1-3) Monday evening in front of 4,124 fans in Alico Arena.
Hicks (Panama City Beach, Fla./J.R. Arnold HS) set the program’s single-game blocks record with eight while adding a career-best 12 points on 6-of-7 shooting and a career-high nine rebounds to complete the redshirt junior transfer’s best all-around game since stepping foot on the college hardwood. Brett Comer (Winter Park, Fla./Winter Park HS) scored a game-high-tying 18 points to lead the quintet of Eagles who tallied double figures while issuing his second eight-assist performance of the young season.
FGCU held a 48-46 lead midway through the second half before Hicks spearheaded a game-changing 13-1 run over the next five minutes with a layup. That run opened up a 61-47 lead with less than five minutes remaining. The Eagles eventually expanded that advantage to as much as 19 before settling for their second-straight double-digit home triumph.
“It was a great crowd, and we appreciate it,” head coach Joe Dooley said of FGCU’s second-consecutive crowd of 4,000+ for the first time in program history. “The biggest thing as you start to grow a program is not who you play, but it’s that your team plays. That’s the most important thing that fans come out and want to support you. It was a terrific atmosphere.”
Junior Filip Cvjeticanin (Zagreb, Croatia/American School of Madrid) helped that atmosphere by knocking down 4-of-6 3-point attempts – including three right along the baseline in front of the FGCU bench in the second half – to finish with a season-high 12 points in just 21 minutes of action. Lone senior Chase Fieler (Parkersburg, W. Va./Parkersburg South HS) poured in a quiet 15 points on 4-of-7 from the field and 6-of-10 from the free-throw line while corralling eight rebounds.
Do-everything Marquette transfer Jamail Jones (Atlanta, Ga./Montverde Academy) continued his stellar, consistent play since putting on the Green and Blue with 10 points and eight rebounds – the fourth straight game to start the year he’s tallied at least eight points and grabbed seven boards.
Hicks shattered the previous school record for blocks in a game of six, set by Kyle Marks in the 2008-09 season and Kevin Martin during the 2004-05 campaign. Standing on its own, Hicks’ eight rejections are the fifth most by any FGCU team in program history.
The Eagles shot 56.5 percent (26-46) from the field, including 7-15 (46.7 percent) from 3-point range, but struggled from the free-throw line. FGCU connected on just 13 of 27 attempts, one game removed from going 15-18 (83.3 percent) in a one-point win at Furman Friday night. On the defensive side of the ball, the Green and Blue held the Division-II Tritons to 29.1-percent shooting (16-55).
For the third straight game, FGCU committed single-digit turnovers as it gave the ball away just nine times to continue a program record for consecutive single-digit turnover games. The Eagles had 15 assists as they also received three from Fieler and a career-establishing four from Dajuan Graf (Charlotte, N.C./Phillip O. Berry Academy). The sophomore, who played a career-high 34 minutes, also scored four points and grabbed a season-best three rebounds.
Alex Bodney led Eckerd, the alma mater of FGCU Director of Basketball Operations Joey Cantens, with 18 points. Josh Snodgrass added 13 as the lone other Triton to finish in double-figure scoring.
The Eagles were without the services of junior Bernard Thompson (Conyers, Ga./Rockdale County HS), who did not dress for precautionary reasons after playing through an ankle injury in the first three games of the year. Thompson, who is averaging 13 points and four rebounds this year, is the nation’s leading returning steals leader as he recorded 102 thefts a season ago, and was voted the Atlantic Sun Defensive Preseason Player of the Year after winning the award in 2012-13.
FGCU continues its mini homestand on Saturday when it plays host to local foe Ave Maria. Tickets are going quickly for a 7 p.m. tipoff and can be secured by logging on to FGCUAthletics.com, calling 239-590-7145 or visiting the ticket office in Alico Arena.
2013-14 men’s basketball season tickets are selling quickly, and only a limited amount remain. New this year are mini-plan packages for all games, with the exception of “Breakfast at the Beach,” and individual-game tickets are now on sale. Fans can reserve their seat(s) by visiting the Alico Arena Ticket Office, calling 239-590-7145 or logging on to FGCUAthletics.com/Tickets.
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