FORT MYERS, Fla. – Led by four players in double figures and a game-high 23 points from junior Alex Young, IUPUI led from start to finish en route to a 76-63 win over the FGCU men’s basketball team on Monday night at Alico Arena.
The Jaguars shot an impressive 54 percent (28-52) from the floor for the game, including a 58 percent (15-26) clip in the final half in which their lead reached as high as 18 points.
The loss moves FGCU to 3-8 on the season and its home record to 2-2. IUPUI picks up its second win in a row to improve to 7-8. Four of the Jaguars’ eight losses have come against ranked opponents.
“Give credit to IUPUI and a great performance by Young on both ends of the court,” said head coach Dave Balza. “We didn’t make enough shots and that just fueled their defensive intensity.”
For the fifth time in the last seven games, redshirt sophomore Anthony Banks (Lantana, Fla./Santaluces HS) led the Eagles in scoring with 16 points and added six rebounds, including four offensive. Senior Reed Baker (Naples, Fla./Bishop Verot HS/Michigan) chipped in with 14 points on 6-of-16 from the floor. Junior Marlon Rivera (Rio Piedras, Puerto Rico/Sagemont HS/Santa Fe CC) had another solid all-around game with 11 points, six rebounds and a game-high eight assists.
Young reached double figures in each half, making 9-of-13 from the floor with four blocks and five steals. After missing last game, senior Leroy Nobles scored 17 points, while Stephen Thomas and John Ashworth added 13 points apiece for the Jaguars.
The biggest difference in the game came from the field where FGCU shot 41 percent (25-61) compared to the aforementioned 54 percent clip for the Jaguars. IUPUI also knocked down nine three-pointers compared to four for FGCU, who had made 21 long range field goals in its previous two games.
FGCU did hold a slight edge on the boards, 35-30, and for the 10th time this season grabbed double figure offensive rebounds (13).
The Eagles came out of the gates slowly, missing their first nine shots of the game while the visiting Jaguars built an 8-0 lead by the 15:20 mark.
Junior Kevin Cantinol (Guadeloupe, French West Indies/Calvary Christian/Ole Miss) got the Eagles on the board with a baby-hook from the right baseline and sparked a five-minute span in which the Blue and Green knocked down 5-of-9 from the field to climb within two, 15-13, midway through the half (9:20).
Just as it seemed the Eagles were on the comeback, IUPUI reeled off a 15-7 run that absorbed the next 4:43 to give the Jaguars their largest lead of the half at 30-20. During the run, IUPUI scored on six of its eight possessions, making all six of its shots.
FGCU climbed to as close as five, 36-31, at the half when freshman Christophe Varidel (Versoix, Switzerland/Worcester Academy) drained a three-pointer with six seconds remaining. Young, Nobles and Thomas supplied 29 of the 36 first half points for IUPUI.
The Eagles cut it to a one-possession game five times over the opening four minutes of the final frame until a 10-2 run by IUPUI took its lead from 44-41 to 54-43 with 13:37 left in the game.
A layup from Rivera and a three-pointer from Baker quickly cut the deficit to six, 54-48, but the Jaguars responded with five straight points of their own to push their lead back to 11, 59-48, with 11:42 on the clock.
IUPUI held a double figure lead for all but 20 seconds over the final 11:42.
FGCU will continue its four-game homestand a week from tonight when it hosts Atlantic Sun foe Belmont on Monday, January 3. Tip time for the Eagles’ A-Sun home opener is slated for 7:30 p.m. and is the back end of a doubleheader with the women’s team that will begin at 5:15 p.m.
FGCU is now 0-2 all-time against IUPUI … the Eagles move to 32-8 in December home games … FGCU came into the game averaging 83.7 points at home … junior Marlon Rivera reached double figures for the third time this season … Rivera has had at least five rebounds and five assists in a game six times, including the last five … redshirt sophomore Anthony Banks has reached double figures a team-high 10 times this season … Banks now has 45 offensive rebounds on the year … senior Reed Baker is now 67 points away from 1,000 for his FGCU career … Banks and Baker have combined to score at least 30 points in seven of 11 games.