FORT MYERS, Fla. – The Florida Gulf Coast University men’s basketball team dropped their season finale to USC Upstate, 59-52, at Alico Arena on Thursday evening. On Senior night, Kyle Marks and Derrick O’Neil combined to score 17 points.
Marks (West Palm Beach, Fla.), along with junior Reed Baker (Naples, Fla.) led the Eagles (8-21, 5-15 A-Sun) offensively with 12 points apiece. For the Spartans (6-22, 6-13 A-Sun), Nick Schneiders had 15 points and 11 rebounds.
A layup by Marks with 9:53 remaining in the opening frame gave the Eagles their largest lead of the half, 16-8, before Schneiders capped a 9-2 run to put the Spartans within one (18-17) at the 7:45 mark.
The Blue and Green found themselves down by as many as four in the later minutes of the first half. With just eleven ticks remaining in the period, Baker gathered an offensive rebound and attempted a three-pointer as time expired. Baker didn’t hit the three, but was fouled by Spartans’ guard Ryan LeGates in the process, and proceeded to hit all three free-throws giving the Eagles a halftime lead of 35-34.
Out of the locker room Schneiders promptly put Upstate in the lead by one, as he was fouled on a dunk, and converted the three point play (36-35). The Blue and Green quickly answered with four straight points, giving the Eagles a three point edge (39-36) with 17:44 to play.
Both squads would battle back and forth in the second period, with neither team leading by more than four points over the final 13:43 of the game. The Eagles would draw even with 12:26 remaining, after a successful assist from senior Derrick O’Neil (Moreno Valley, Calif.) led Mark’s to the hoop for a two-handed dunk (41-41).
With just under two minutes remaining in the game, the Spartans begin to pull away as Mezie Uzochukwu connected on a pair of free throws, giving Upstate a 53-49 advantage. The Spartans would go 7-of-8 from the charity stripe down the stretch and the Eagles would be held scoreless over the final 1:05 of the game, falling by a final score of 59-52.