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FGCU Cruises To 70-38 Win Over USC Upstate
FORT MYERS, Fla. – Freshman Chase Fieler (Parkersburg, W. Va./Parkersburg South) led four players in double figures with a season-high 17 points and the Eagles turned in a strong defensive performance en route to a convincing 70-38 Atlantic Sun win over USC Upstate on Super Bowl Sunday at Alico Arena.
The Eagles limited the Spartans to just 28 percent shooting from the field (14-51), improving to 6-16 overall and 3-10 in the A-Sun. The 32-point win is the largest victory in the program’s Division I history, topping the 60-30 victory over Penn on Dec. 29, 2007.
The loss snapped USC Upstate’s (4-20, 3-11) two-game win streak.
“I thought we came out with a lot of energy and got on top early, which is something we didn’t do last game,” said head coach Dave Balza. “It’s nice to be able to lead from wire-to-wire because we’ve been trying to focus on playing a full 40 minutes and I think we did that today.”
It marked the fifth time this season four Eagles have reached double-digits in the same game. Fieler scored 11 of his game-high 17 points in the second half and drilled five three-pointers. As a team, the Eagles knocked down 8-of-16 from long range.
Fieler was also a catalyst on the defensive end, combining with sophomore Sherwood Brown (Orlando, Fla./Olympia HS) to limit Upstate’s leading scorer Torrey Craig (15 ppg) to just nine points to snap a streak of 14 straight games in double figures for the freshman. The Eagles compounded the Spartans rough shooting day by grabbing 33 defensive boards and winning the rebounding battle by a 40-22 margin.
Freshman Christophe Varidel (Versoix, Switzerland/Worcester Academy) reached double figures for the 10th straight game with 14 points, four rebounds and three assists. Redshirt sophomore Anthony Banks (Lantana, Fla./Santaluces HS) and junior Tim Snyder (Punta Gorda, Fla./Charlotte HS/Hillsborough CC) combined for 22 points and 12 rebounds.
FGCU jumped out to a 9-0 lead, as Upstate went the opening seven minutes without a point. Four different players scored for the Eagles during the run, highlighted by an alley-oop from junior Marlon Rivera (Rio Piedras, Puerto Rico/Sagemont HS/Santa Fe CC) to Banks for the second straight game.
Owning a 15-11 lead with 8:22 on the clock, the Eagles used three-pointers from Fieler and Varidel during a 10-3 run to build a double figure advantage that would remain for the rest of the game. Varidel’s 55th long range field goal of the season capped the run.
The FGCU lead grew to as large as 13 on a pair of occasions, but the Eagles took a 31-20 lead into the locker room. The points surrender by the Blue and Green were a season-low over the opening 20 minutes this season, as Upstate combined its 33 percent shooting (8-24) with nine turnovers.
USC Upstate’s offensive woes continued as it managed just eight points over the first 12 minutes of the second half. While the Spartans struggled, the Eagles put the game away with a 17-3 run midway through the period that pushed it to a 57-28 score with 8:18 to go.
The FGCU lead reached as large as 34, 70-36, with just under a minute to play – the Eagles’ largest lead of the season.
FGCU shot over 50 percent in each half, resulting in a 51.1 percent clip (24-47) for the game. Rivera had just two points, but turned in an excellent floor game with eight rebounds and eight assists to just one turnover.
FGCU will begin a six-day, three-game road swing on Thursday, Feb. 10 at Kennesaw State. The Eagles will then stay in the state to face A-Sun foe Mercer on Saturday, Feb. 12 before heading north for their final non-conference game at Western Kentucky on Valentine’s Day.