Derrick O'Neil recorded a double-double with 12 points and 12 rebounds in the loss
FORT MYERS, Fla. – The FGCU men’s basketball team dropped their third straight contest Saturday afternoon, falling to the visiting Mercer Bears 82-75. Delvin Franklin led the way with 18 points and Derrick O’Neil recorded a double-double with 12 points and 12 rebounds, but it wasn’t quite enough as FGCU came up just a little short.
The Eagles got off to a good start, holding an 8-5 lead after Reggie Chambers’ layup just over three minutes into the game. But the Bears would come back, taking a 16-12 lead after Mark Hall’s three pointer with 13:56 to play in the half. Mercer would continue to extend the lead, eventually stretching to as many as 13 points after another Hall three-pointer with 5:58 to go. FGCU went on a quick 7-0 run to cut it to six at 32-26 with 4:37 to play, but couldn’t get it any closer than that, as Mercer used a 5-0 run of their own at the end of the half to carry a 44-32 advantage into the break.
In the second half, Mercer continued to build on their lead, starting the half on a 8-3 run over the first 6:11. But then the Eagles started to put something together, starting with a layup from Delvin Franklin. On the next possession, Franklin got fouled and hit both free throws, cutting the lead to 52-39. After a multitude of missed shots and turnovers by both teams, Franklin connected on a three to pull the Eagles within 10 at 52-42 with 10:53 to play. Then Reggie Chambers pulled down a rebound and raced down court for a layup, making it 52-44. After Mercer’s James Florence was whistled for a technical foul, Reed Baker hit one of two free throws to trim the lead down to just seven at 52-45. The Bears finally stopped the run when E.J. Kusnyer knocked down a three to reestablish a 10 point lead with just under 10 minutes to go. But once again, the Eagles fought back, and after a pair of Kyle Marks free throws and a three-point play from Delvin Franklin, FGCU was within five at 57-52 with 7:42 to go. Over the next couple minutes the teams basically traded baskets, with the lead hovering around five. With 5:22 to play, Kusnyer converted the rare four-point play, staking the Bears to a nine point lead at 65-56. The Eagles continued to throw everything they had at the Bears, including a couple circus shot layups from Reggie Chambers, but they just couldn’t cut into the lead at all. Finally, with just over a minute to go, Delvin Franklin rattled home a three to cut the lead down to five, 74-69. But that was as close as the Eagles would get, as the Bears hit their free throws down the stretch to hold on for the 82-75 victory.
For the Bears (15-11, 9-6), Daniel Emerson led all scorers with 23 points in addition to pulling down a team-high 9 rebounds. E.J. Kusnyer added 18 points and 4 assists, and James Florence chipped in with 17 points and 4 assists.
For the Eagles (10-18, 6-11), Delvin Franklin scored a team-high 18 points and pulled down 5 rebounds. Reggie Chambers added 15 points, and Derrick O’Neil recorded a double-double with 12 points and 12 rebounds. Kyle Marks had a big day defensively with 6 blocks and 10 rebounds, as well as scoring 7 points.
The Eagles will wrap up the home portion of the 2008-09 schedule on Monday night against Kennesaw State. It will be senior night at Alico Arena, as Delvin Franklin, the only senior, will be honored before the game. Tip-off is set for 7:00 PM.