DELAND, Fla. – After appearing to have the game won at the end of regulation and the first extra frame, the FGCU men’s basketball team out-scored Stetson 17-9 in the third overtime to survive the longest game in the program’s nine-year history and earn a 111-103 Atlantic Sun win over the Hatters on Tuesday night at the Edmunds Center.
The 111 points are the most scored by the Eagles since joining the Division I ranks in 2007-08, as they picked up their second straight A-Sun road win to improve to 5-13 overall and 2-7 in the conference. The back-to-back A-Sun wins are FGCU’s first since its initial year in the league (2007-08).
The game was the 10th Division I contest this season to go at least three overtimes and the first in the A-Sun game to do so since Jacksonville defeated Stetson, 98-94, on Jan. 3, 2008.
“I’m extremely proud of how we played tonight on several different levels,” said head coach Dave Balza. “The guys fought through a lot of ups and downs in the game and never lost focus or determination. It was a great college basketball game and I’m excited about the progress we have made over the last few weeks.”
For the fourth time this season a pair of FGCU players reached the 20-point plateau, as freshman Christophe Varidel (Versoix, Switzerland/Worcester Academy) continued his torrid shooting with a season-high 29 points and redshirt sophomore Anthony Banks (Lantana, Fla./Santaluces HS) equaled a career-best with 24 points. Varidel, who has reached double figures in six straight games, made six threes and went 9-of-9 from the free throw line. Banks, who produced his fourth 20-point game of the season, scored 13 of his 24 in the overtime periods while adding nine rebounds.
FGCU nearly equaled its number of field goal attempts (61) with a school record 60 free throw attempts, making 41. For the game, the Eagles shot 49 percent (30-61) from the floor and a solid 53 percent (10-19) from long range. On the flipside, Stetson went 34-of-80 from the floor and made 24-of-35 free throws.
The Eagles appeared to have the game won with 2.0 seconds remaining in regulation and holding a 67-64 lead, but the Hatters in-bounded the ball the length of the court to the three-point arc where freshman Steve Forbes caught and fired a three that banked off the glass and in to tie the game. It was Forbes’ first three-point attempt of the season.
FGCU thrived on the offensive end in the overtime frames, scoring 44 points over the extra 15 minutes by going 11-of-14 from the field, a perfect 4-of-4 from long range and 18-of-28 from the free throw line.
Both teams produced nine points in the first overtime, but it was Tyshawn Patterson’s deep three with 5.1 seconds remaining that helped the Hatters force the second overtime and tie the game at 76-76.
In the second overtime, Patterson came through again with another three-pointer to give Stetson a 94-91 lead with just over 12 seconds on the clock. The Eagles turned to Varidel, who got a Stetson defender off his feet, took one dribble and then buried his sixth triple of the contest to knot the score at 94-94. Patterson’s three as time expired rimmed out.
FGCU wasted little time in taking control of the final overtime period, holding Stetson without a point over the first three minutes while building a six-point advantage, at 100-94. The Eagles made 13-of-21 free throws in the last overtime to out-score the Hatters 17-9 and earn their first-ever win (1-3) at the Edmunds Center.
The 214 combined points are also the most in a single game in FGCU history, while the Blue and Green’s 111 points are the most by an A-Sun team since ETSU defeated Mercer, 112-89, on Feb. 24, 2007.
Like his classmate Anthony Banks, sophomore Sherwood Brown (Orlando, Fla./Olympia) did a majority of his damage in overtime. Brown scored 10 of his season-high 15 points in the extra sessions, including a pair of big threes. Junior Marlon Rivera (Rio Piedras, Puerto Rico/Sagemont HS/Santa Fe CC) played a game-high 50 minutes, falling just shy of a triple-double with 11 points, eight assists and seven rebounds.
Six different players finished in double figures for Stetson, led by 20 points each from Joel Naburgs and Patterson. Forbes, who knocked down the buzzer beater in regulation, had 17 points and 10 rebounds.
The game featured a combined 67 fouls, as seven players fouled out of the contest. Along with drawing the Hatters into 40 fouls, the Eagles were able to take a school record 60 free throws by getting extra possessions with 16 offensive rebounds. FGCU owned a 48-41 edge on the glass for the game.
FGCU will complete its string of four consecutive road games with a trip to Nashville, Tenn. over the weekend. The Eagles will begin by taking on A-Sun leader Belmont (18-4, 10-1) on Friday, Jan. 28 at 7 p.m. before capping the two-game trip against Lipscomb (12-8, 7-4) on Sunday, Jan. 30 at 3 p.m.