JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A late-game comeback for the FGCU men’s basketball team came up short in the final minutes of an overtime loss to the Ospreys of UNF Saturday night in Jacksonville, 68-65.
For the Eagles (7-19, 4-13 A-Sun), Reed Baker (Naples, Fla.) led all scorers with 19 points on 5-of-11 shooting, including 7-of-9 off the bench from the charity stripe, while Andy Diaz had 17 points and 11 rebounds for the Ospreys (12-14, 7-9 A-Sun).
Both squads got off to sluggish starts as the teams combined for seven turnovers and four points in just over five minutes of action. With just over nine minutes remaining in the half, both scoring and intensity picked up as junior Chad Lutkenhaus (Labelle, Fla.) drained a three-pointer from the left corner to give the Blue and Green a 12-6 lead.
Shortly thereafter Jerron Granberry connected on back-to-back three-point attempts with 8:30 left in the first half, and the Ospreys were down just two, 16-14. Roughly two minutes later, at the six minute-mark, Granberry hit another trey to tie the score at 20 apiece.
The Eagles would find themselves behind by as many as three points before junior Ed Rolax (St. Petersburg, Fla.) would score on an offensive put-back with 2:28 remaining in the half, giving the Eagles a 26-25 lead. The lead wouldn’t last long as FGCU went to the locker room trailing 30-27 at the half.
Reggie Chambers (Miramar, Fla.) and redshirt freshman Anthony Banks (Lantana, Fla.) led the way for the Eagles with six points each in the first half.
The Ospreys’ lead would grow to 33-27 early in the second half, until Junior Reed Baker answered from behind the arc, putting the Eagles within three at the 17:48 mark (33-30). UNF would again extend their lead (43-36), but the Eagles would respond with an 8-0 run capped by a Baker jumper and once again take control of the scoreboard at 44-43 with 9:31 remaining in regulation.
With both teams tied at 46, freshman Hunter Miller (Nashville, Tenn.) would knock down a fast break layup with 6:18 remaining, giving the Eagles a 48-46 lead. A pair of free throws from Chambers with 4:54 left would give FGCU their largest lead of the night, 52-46.
UNF’s Cuka hit another three-pointer with three minutes left to cut the lead to just a point (53-52), before Miller grabbed a key jump ball to give FGCU the possession a minute-and-a-half later (1:34). The Eagles turned the ball over and Stan Januska promptly hit one from behind the arc to give UNF a two point lead (55-53) with 59 seconds left.
A put-back layup from Banks tied the score at 55 with 41 seconds remaining. After Cuka missed a three, O’Neil would grab a key defensive rebound, calling timeout after crossing the timeline with 9.5 seconds to play. Miller’s jumper wouldn’t fall as time expired, forcing overtime at 55 apiece.
Cuka would convert yet another three-point shot with 3:01 left in overtime, giving UNF a one-point lead (58-57). An acrobatic three-point play by Baker would give the Eagles a two point lead (60-58) with 2:45 remaining. A layup by Andy Diaz grabbed the lead for the Ospreys at 62-61 with 41 seconds left in overtime. A series of made free throws by UNF would be the final nail in the Eagles’ coffin, with a final score of 68-65.
Chambers had 12 points off the bench on 4-of-6 shooting, while senior Kyle Marks (West Palm Beach, Fla.) scored 11 points in just 18 minutes.
The Eagles land back at home in Alico Arena Thursday, February 18, for another Eagle hoops doubleheader against Lipscomb. The women will take on the Lady Bisons at 5:15 p.m., with the men’s game set to begin 30 minutes following the conclusion of the women’s contest.