FORT MYERS, Fla. – Junior guard Beau Bauer scored a game-high 18 points to lead Florida Gulf Coast to a 72-59 victory over North Greenville College Saturday night in the championship game of the 2006 National Independent Tournament at Alico Arena.
FGCU (17-11), which has now won seven straight games, captured its first Independent Championship in three tries. They had lost in overtime of the finals in each of the past two seasons. North Greenville (13-17)
Bauer (Walton, Ind.), who tied a career-high by also pulling down 10 rebounds in the game, was selected as the tournament’s Most Outstanding Player. He connected on 7-of-18 from the floor, including a pair of three-pointers, to lead a balanced FGCU attack. Sophomore forward Adam Liddell (Auburn, Ind.) who was named to the all-Independent Tournament team, added 14 points and six rebounds while sophomore Brendan Rooney (Fort Myers, Fla.) also had 14 points. Freshman point guard Cecil Avant (Pembroke Pines, Fla.) had nine points.
Despite not scoring a point in the first 5:42 of the game, FGCU led most of the first half and had a 28-21 lead at the break. North Greenville rallied to cut the lead to two at 39-37 with 15:33 to play. The Crusaders capped off a 17-7 run on a three-pointer by Justin Richmond with 12:19 to play for a 45-44 lead. On the next possession, Avant drained a three-pointer as FGCU went back on top 47-44. Crusaders forward Daniel Morbitzer then converted a lay-up in transition to tie the game at 47-47. Eagles’ sophomore Roman Narmbaye (Chad, Africa) put the Eagles ahead for good when he converted a pass from Liddell inside for a lay-up.
The Eagles hit 58.6% from the field in the second half, including 5-of-10 from beyond the arc. North Greenville connected on 42.6% from the field and knocked down eight three-pointers.
Richmond led the Crusaders with 16 points to earn all-tournament honors. PJ Schumacher added 15 points.
FGCU hosts Morehouse College on Friday night at 7:30 p.m.