(13-19, 8-10 ASun)
Florida Gulf Coast
(22-10, 13-5 ASun)
3/6/2013 | Macon, Ga. (Hawkins Arena) | Attendance: 683
|Florida Gulf Coast||29||44||73|
|Stats at a Glance||UNF||FGCU|
|3P FG Percentage||.375
Eagles to play winner of Stetson vs. ETSU showdown on Friday night
MACON, Ga. – Junior Chase Fieler (Parkersburg, W. Va./Parkersburg South HS) equaled a career-high with 22 points and sophomore Bernard Thompson (Conyers, Ga./Rockdale County HS) scored all 18 of his points in the final 12:53 as second-seeded FGCU advanced to the Atlantic Sun semifinals with a 73-63 win over seventh-seeded North Florida on Wednesday afternoon at Hawkins Arena.
The Eagles, who are 3-1 at the A-Sun Tournament in their two appearances, improve to 22-10 on the year and will play the winner of No. 3 Stetson and No. 6 ETSU in the semifinals on Friday night at 8 p.m. on Comcast Sports Southeast (CSS). Stetson and ETSU will square off on Thursday at 2:30 p.m.
Fieler’s third 20-point game of the year came on 8-of-15 from the field, including a perfect 3-of-3 from three, and he also added a game-high nine rebounds. In the midst of his 18-point night, Thompson picked up three more steals, giving him 91 on the year and moving him into sixth in A-Sun single-season history.
With FGCU holding a one possession lead, 59-56, with 6:24 to play, Thompson took over the game with a personal 9-0 run to give the Eagles their largest lead of the game (12), 68-56, with two minutes to play. Thompson’s 9-0 run was the tail end of 14 consecutive points by the league’s Defensive Player of the Year who hit 5-of-7 from the field and all five free throws during the 6:33 span.
Despite a terrific 29-point performance from UNF’s Parker Smith, the Eagles dismissed any thoughts of a UNF comeback after Thompson run by making 5-of-6 free throws over the final 72 seconds to advance to the A-Sun semifinals for the second straight year.
“Give UNF a lot of credit they are an excellent basketball team and I’m very happy with how hard we played to get the win,” said head coach Andy Enfield. “We had different guys step up at different times in the game and when that happens we are a dangerous team.”
Out of Fieler’s nine rebounds, six came on the offensive glass where FGCU hauled down 20 as a team to own a commanding 28-12 edge in second chance points. Senior Eddie Murray (North Fort Myers, Fla./Bishop Verot HS) provided a huge spark off the bench with four offensive rebounds and had a career-high four steals to have a major hand in the team’s other big edge, an 18-4 advantage in points off turnovers.
Murray’s nine points, five rebounds and four steals came in 23 minutes off the bench, while classmate Sherwood Brown (Orlando, Fla./Olympia HS) was on the floor for all but three minutes, finishing with 14 points and seven rebounds. The A-Sun Player of the Year, Brown leads the team with 27 double figure outings. Sophomore Brett Comer (Winter Park, Fla./Winter Park HS) had seven of his nine points and four of his game-high six assists in the second half.
Smith’s 29 points were highlighted by 6-of-10 from beyond the arc, as the All-Conference first team choice upped his A-Sun record three-point total to 116. UNF, who ends the year with a 13-19 record, committed 12 of its 19 turnovers in the second half and shot 42 percent (23-55) for the game.
An A-Sun All-Conference second team choice, Fieler and strong defense were the catalysts in the first half, as the 6-foot-8 junior scored 13 of the team’s 29 points to help FGCU extend its streak to 18 games without trailing at the half thanks to a slim 29-27 advantage.