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Eagles Prevail Over Golden Panthers, 81-64
FORT MYERS, Fla. – The Florida Gulf Coast University men’s basketball team earned its first win of the season Saturday night when it topped FIU 81-64 in front of 1,835 fans at Alico Arena.
Junior guard Reed Baker (Naples, Fla.) scored a season-high 20 points and sophomore guard Reggie Chambers (Miramar, Fla.) shot a perfect 6-for-6 from the field and finished with 16 points for the Eagles (1-6).
FGCU is now 2-0 all-time against FIU as a member of Division I.
“I thought it was important that we won that game by 17 instead of six or four or two,” FGCU head coach Dave Balza said. “That was good for our guys’ confidence.”
Chambers got the Eagles going early as he scored 14 of his 16 points in the first seven minutes of the game. He drilled four 3-pointers, the last of which he banked, as FGCU opened up a 33-17 lead midway through the first half.
The Blue and Green shot 55 percent from the field to take a 43-28 lead into the halftime break.
The Eagles led by as many as 20 points in the second half before FIU began to cut into the lead. The Golden Panthers (3-9) went on a 12-0 run to cut FGCU’s lead to 70-64 with 3:05 remaining in the game.
On the Eagles next possession Baker drained a 3-pointer and FGCU’s defense held FIU scoreless for the remainder of the game. The Eagles closed on an 11-0 run (81-64) highlighted by an alley-oop from Chambers to senior forward Kyle Marks (West Palm Beach, Fla.) that electrified the Alico Arena faithful.
Freshman forward Anthony Banks (Lantana, Fla.) finished with 13 points for FGCU while Marks and fellow senior forward Derrick O’Neil (Moreno Valley, Calif.) each finished with nine points.
Baker had a game-high eight boards as FGCU outrebounded FIU 41-26. The Eagles also grabbed 12 offensive boards, led by Banks’ three.
This was the fourth consecutive game that FGCU has outrebounded their opponent.
“That came into play in a very positive way tonight,” Balza said of the rebounding advantage. “We had a couple clutch, key rebounds that maybe if we didn’t get those it would have been a different story.”
Marlon Bright scored 16 points to lead the Golden Panthers while Marvin Roberts added 15 points of his own for FIU.
The Eagles are back in action Monday at 7 p.m. when they open Atlantic Sun conference play against USC Upstate in Spartanburg, S.C. They will then take on North Carolina Central in Durham, N.C. on Wednesday at 7 p.m. before returning home to play Big East foe DePaul on Tuesday, December 22 at 7:05 p.m.