SPARTANSBURG, S.C. - Reed Baker dropped 24 points as the Eagles fell to USC Upstate, 71-62, in A-Sun men’s basketball action Monday night in the Hodge Center.
With the win, Upstate improved to 7-16 overall and 6-8 in the A-Sun. FGCU fell to 10-17 overall and 6-10 in the conference.
The Eagles have lost six of their last seven games.
In what was an increasingly physical match-up as the game progressed, Upstate and Florida Gulf Coast kept punching and counter-punching in the first half. Neither team was able to grab a lead larger than six points as the lead changed hands six times in the first 20 minutes of play. After the Spartans opened a 23-17 lead with 5:11 to play, FGCU countered with an 8-0 run to take a 25-23 lead. The Spartans got the lead back and went into halftime with a 27-26 advantage.
After Florida Gulf Coast took a 28-27 lead on Kyle Marks’ jumper to open the second half, Upstate stormed into the lead with a 15-2 run over the next four minutes to open a 42-30 advantage with 15:17 to play. The Spartans maintained its double-digit lead, holding a 54-42 edge with 9:47 to play. That’s when FGCU fought to get back into the game.
The Eagles rattled off a 9-2 run over the next three minutes to cut Upstate’s lead to five, 56-51. However, Mezie Uzochukwu’s jumper gave the Spartans a seven-point lead with 5:54 to play. Despite being held without a field goal for the remainder of the game, the Spartans held on for the win by converting 13-of-14 free throws the rest of the way.
The only Eagle to score in double figures was Reed Baker. He finished with a game-high 24 points. He shot 7-of-19 from the field and 3-of 12 from 3-point range.
The Eagles will return to action on Saturday, Feb. 14 when the play the second game of a double-header against Mercer in Alico Arena. Tip-off is set for approximately 3:15 p.m.