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Fast Start, Thompson Not Enough as FGCU Falls at No. 9 Duke
|Florida Gulf Coast||30||37||67|
|Stats at a Glance||FGCU||DU|
|FG Percentage||.404 (23-57)||.476 (30-63)|
|3P FG Percentage||.440 (11-25)||.290 (9-31)|
|FT Percentage||.909 (10-11)||.826 (19-23)|
- 24||Mason Plumlee
MURRAY - 6
BROWN - 6
Ryan Kelly - 9
BROWN - 3
- 5||Tyler Thornton
Amile Jefferson - 2
Ryan Kelly - 2
MURRAY - 1
BROWN - 1
Amile Jefferson - 2
DURHAM, N.C. – Despite a career-high 24 points from sophomore Bernard Thomson (Conyers, Ga./Rockdale County HS) and owning the lead for a majority of the opening 14 minutes, the FGCU men’s basketball team couldn’t fend off a 30-0 Blue Devils’ run as it fell to No. 9 Duke, 88-67, Sunday night on ESPNU in front of 9,314 fans at Cameron Indoor Stadium.
Over the opening 14:55 of the contest, the Eagles led for 11:37 and held a 30-29 edge until the Blue Devils, who were coming off a win over No. 3 Kentucky, exploded for the final 23 points of the half and opened the second half with the first seven en route to their 96th straight non-conference home win.
Just four days removed from a 13-point win over ACC foe Miami, FGCU slips to 2-2 on the year, while Duke, who is currently ranked No. 9 in both national polls, improves to 3-0. The game was FGCU’s third this season against a team that is at least receiving votes in the Top 25.
“I’m proud of our guys. We out-scored them in the second half by one,” said head coach Andy Enfield. “We only had six turnovers in the second half and even though they have some terrific players, I thought we played very hard.”
Thompson’s 24 points featured double figure totals in each half, as he buried a career-best 6-of-8 from three-point land, added a team-high six rebounds and established another career-high with five steals. His 24 points came over a foul-plagued 30 minutes in which he shot 9-of-13 from the field for his second 20-point effort (21 at VCU – Nov. 9) of the young season and fourth of his career.
As good as Thompson’s perimeter performance was, Duke senior and Wooden Award Watch List member Mason Plumlee’s career-high 28 points and nine rebounds helped the Blue Devils own a 16-point edge (36-20) in points in the paint and a 23-11 advantage in free throws attempted. Plumlee drew FGCU’s three-man front line into 13 fouls, knocking down 10-of-11 from the charity stripe to provide the biggest differences in the game.
FGCU shot above 40 percent each half and drilled 11 three-pointers for the second straight game, led by Thompson’s six trifectas which are good for a tie for second in the program’s Division I record books. The two teams combined for 13 first half threes, but Duke went just 2-of-11 in the second half from long range while the Eagles went 5-of-12.
Thompson was the catalyst of FGCU’s solid start, scoring eight of the team’s first 13 points that helped it build a six-point lead (13-7) by the first media timeout. Junior Chase Fieler’s (Parkersburg, W. Va./Parkersburg South HS) three-pointer on the opening possession and sophomore Eric McKnight’s (Raleigh, N.C./Princeton Day Academy/Iowa State) layup on the second possession gave the Eagles a quick 5-0 lead.
With FGCU owning a 21-18 advantage at 9:58, the lead would change hands twice and the score would tie twice over the next 4:33, as the team’s traded three-pointers until Duke took the lead for good, at 32-30. Out of the eight field goals scored by the two teams over that span, seven were three-pointers. Sophomore Filip Cvjeticanin’s (Zagreb, Croatia/American School of Madrid) three-pointer from the top of the key over the out-stretched arms of Ryan Kelly made it 30-29 in favor of FGCU for 18 seconds before Quinn Cook’s second three in as many possessions made it 32-30 with 5:25 to play.
Thompson battled foul trouble throughout the game and had to come out with 4:08 remaining in the opening half after picking up his third foul, a span in which Duke out-scored the Green and Blue, 14-0.
In all, Duke scored the final 23 points of the second half in just 5:43 to take a 52-30 lead into the break. Thompson scored 11 of his points in the opening 20 minutes, while Plumlee had half (14) of his 28.
Junior Sherwood Brown (Orlando, Fla./Olympia HS) added nine points in the second half to go along with Thompson’s 13 to give the duo 22 of the team’s 37-36 advantage in the final 20 minutes. Brown finished with 14 points and equaled Thompson’s team-best of six rebounds. Cvjeticanin and junior Christophe Varidel (Versoix, Switzerland/Worcester Academy) added two three-pointers each off the bench and helped the Eagles own a 20-9 edge in points off the pine.
Aside from Plumlee’s 28 points, three other players reached double figures for Duke. Freshman Rasheed Sulaimon had 13 of his 19 points in the first half, while Kelly also just missed a double-double with 14 points and nine rebounds for the Blue Devils, who shot 48 percent (30-63) for the game.
FGCU will be back in action on Wednesday, Nov. 21, when it hosts a four-team tournament that is part of the Battle 4 Atlantis, as Toledo, Samford and Alcorn State visit Southwest Florida. Play will open with Toledo taking on Samford at 4:30 p.m. followed by the Eagles against Alcorn State at 7:05 p.m.