11/15/2013 | Greenville, S.C. (Timmons Arena) | Attendance: 1657
|Stats at a Glance||FGCU||FUR|
|3P FG Percentage||.188
GREENVILLE, S.C. – With his team trailing by one with 5.2 seconds remaining, junior Brett Comer calmly drilled two free throws to award the FGCU men’s basketball team (2-1) a gutty 70-69 win at Furman (2-1) Friday night and cap a furious late-game comeback which gave head coach Joe Dooley his first road win at the helm of the Eagles.
FGCU led by one, 68-67, with less than a minute remaining, but Furman took the lead with 41 ticks left. On the Eagles’ ensuing possession, they drained the clock trying to get a good look before Comer (Winter Park, Fla./Winter Park HS) was fouled after driving the lane and attempting a shot. The career 66 percent free-throw shooter concluded a stellar night by hitting both, and the Paladins final heave from 40 feet fell off the front of the rim.
“Give Furman credit; I thought they played very well and were very efficient offensively,” Dooley said. “We put ourselves in harm way by letting them get easy buckets inside, but at the end of the game we made some plays and Brett was just outstanding.
“He (Comer) did a great job defending, but I think more importantly is he forced the issue and got to the paint and made plays offensively which we needed,” Dooley added of the 6-3 guard, who – for just the fourth time in 72 career games – did not lead the Eagles in assists.
Comer – who went 8-9 from the line for the game – scored a team-high 21 points and corralled five rebounds. Classmate Bernard Thompson (Conyers, Ga./Rockdale County HS) added 20 points, four rebounds, his first two steals of the campaign and a career-best six assists despite cramping up midway through the second half.
The Eagles trailed by nine, 61-52, with 8:30 remaining and by six, 65-59, with 3:30 left. FGCU went on a 9-2 run in a two-and-a-half minute span to take the lead on a Jamail Jones (Atlanta, Ga./Montverde Academy) layup as the Marquette transfer converted the final of Thompson’s helpers on the evening.
Chase Fieler (Parkersburg, W. Va./Parkersburg South HS) – for the second time in the first three games – was saddled with foul trouble early and played just five minutes in the opening half, scoring two points and grabbing four rebounds. However, he played all 20 minutes in the second stanza and helped steady the Green and Blue offense, finishing just shy of a double-double with 10 points and nine rebounds.
Jones, meanwhile, continued his solid play to start his career in the Green and Blue as he tallied 13 points and corralled seven rebounds in 39 minutes.
For the game, FGCU shot 39.4 percent but went 15-31 (48.4 percent) from the floor in the second half, including 3-6 from 3-point range after shooting 31.4 percent and 0-10, respectively, in the opening half. The comeback wouldn’t have been possible without the Eagles’ work at the defensive end as they held Furman to 39.3-percent (11-28) shooting in the second half after the Paladins shot 53.8 percent (14-26) in the first. Comer’s 8-9 effort from the line set the tone for his teammates as FGCU shot 15-18 (83.3 percent) from the charity stripe on the night.
FGCU – coming off a 14-point victory in its Tuesday morning home opener on ESPN2 against Hartford – started to find its offensive flow in the second half of that game, and began by seamlessly carrying that over into Friday’s contest.
The Eagles raced out to a 7-1 start which was aided by Thompson’s first steal of the year and FGCU’s first opening-half dunk courtesy of Fieler. However, Fieler and Nate Hicks (Panama City Beach, Fla./J.R. Arnold HS) each then picked up their second foul just six minutes in and Furman began to take advantage.
Hicks had four boards in only three minutes in opening stanza, and with Fieler and Hicks both on the court in the first half, FGCU trailed just once, 1-0. With both on the bench, the Eagles never led, getting down by as much as six on multiple occasions.
However, the Green and Blue erased one of those six-point deficits with a 6-0 run to tie the game at 26-26 following two Comer free throws at the 3:56 mark. But the Paladins countered with a 12-5 stretch to close the half and take a 38-31 lead into the locker room.
The Eagles opened the second half exactly the same way as it did the first, blitzing out to an 8-0 start to take a 39-38 lead before the Paladins once again had a response. The Southern Conference member went back and forth with the defending Atlantic Sun Champions before eventually taking that nine-point lead with 8:30 remaining.
Furman was led by guard Stephen Croone with a game-high 24 points. Three other Paladins finished in double-figure scoring as Keith Belfield netted 14, Kendrec Ferrara added 12 and William Gates, Jr. contributed 11.
FGCU controlled the backboard, finishing with a 41-31 advantage on the glass, including 19 offensive rebounds. Those 19 boards led to 12 second-chance points. The Eagles also took care of the ball as they only gave it away eight times while forcing Furman into 14 giveaways, which led to 18 points for FGCU.
The Eagles return back to The Nest on Monday, Nov. 18, as they will face Eckerd at 7 p.m. The game – previously announced as being carried on ESPN3 – will instead be streamed free of charge on ASun.TV.
For up-to-the-minute information and behind-the-scenes access to the men’s basketball program, follow @FGCU_MBB on Twitter and Instagram, and “Like” us on Facebook at /FGCUMBB.
2013-14 men’s basketball season tickets are selling quickly, and only a limited amount remain. New this year are mini-plan packages for all games, with the exception of “Breakfast at the Beach,” and individual-game tickets are now on sale. Fans can reserve their seat(s) by visiting the Alico Arena Ticket Office, calling 239-590-7145 or logging on to FGCUAthletics.com/Tickets.