12/7/2013 | U.S. Century Bank Arena (Miami, Fla.) | Attendance: 2085
|Stats at a Glance||FGCU||FIU|
|3P FG Percentage||.143
MIAMI – Leading 56-48 with a little more than seven minutes remaining Saturday at FIU, the FGCU men’s basketball team (4-4) allowed the Panthers (8-4) to close the game on an extended 24-5 run to take a 72-61 victory at U.S. Century Bank Arena.
After playing just seven minutes and not having a point nor an assist in the first half, Brett Comer (Winter Park, Fla./Winter Park HS) responded by scoring 14 points and issuing six assists in the second half to lead FGCU back from an eight-point deficit. Chase Fieler (Parkersburg, W. Va./Parkersburg South HS) matched Comer’s 14 points as the duo tied for the team lead in that category, while Bernard Thompson (Conyers, Ga./Rockdale County HS) added 10 to conclude the trio of FGCU double-figure scorers.
FGCU trailed by as much as eight in the first half and by six, 46-40, in the early stages of the second half. Facing that six-point hole, the Eagles stormed back – led by Comer – to go on an 11-0 run and an extended 16-2 stretch over 5-plus minutes to take that 56-48 advantage. Ten of the 16 points during the push came from Comer, who assisted on an additional bucket.
FIU, playing in front of its largest crowd of the season, had a brief rebuttal to trim its deficit to four, 56-52, with only four minutes remaining. Fieler stepped to the line for a pair of free throws looking to extend the edge back to six during the mini-run, but missed both. On FGCU’s next trip – still with that four-point lead – Comer found an open Jamail Jones underneath, but the redshirt junior missed an uncontested lay-in.
The two teams then started trading buckets before the Panthers ultimately took a 57-56 lead at the 3:39 mark. But FGCU had a response, and once again it was Comer as the junior got to the hoop to reclaim the lead, 58-57, on the Green and Blue’s ensuing possession. But FIU countered with an 11-0 run – aided by a pair of Thompson free-throw misses and several long-range misses from his teammates – to open up a double-digit lead and take its first meeting with FGCU since the Eagles became a Division-I program in 2007-08.
“This is one of the most difficult losses I’ve been a part of,” said head coach Joe Dooley, who is in his 26th season as a coach. “They went on a spurt at the end; we didn’t get stops and we didn’t take good shots, and the ones we did get we couldn’t finish.”
Fieler entered the game needing seven rebounds to crack 500 for his career, and the Eagles’ lone senior finished with exactly that many to become just the third player in program history with at least 500 career rebounds. Jones (Atlanta, Ga./Montverde Academy) added nine points and a career-high 10 rebounds to finish just shy of his first career double-double. The Marquette transfer scored six of his nine in the second stanza, including a game-tying layup off a feed from Comer which pulled FGCU even early in the second half at 38-38 for the first time in nearly 15 minutes.
Looking to avoid its first three-game losing streak since the 2011-12 season, FGCU rebounded from a poor first-half performance of 38-percent from the floor (11-29) with a 52-percent showing in the second half (16-31). Many of those looks were at the rim as the Eagles scored 46 of their 61 points (75 percent) in the paint.
On the perimeter, FGCU struggled as it shot just 2-14 (14 percent) from 3-point range and 5-12 (42 percent) from the free-throw line. Similarly, FIU went 4-15 (27 percent) from the 3-point arc, but 22-25 (88 percent) from the charity stripe.
FIU began the week as the nation’s leader in total rebounds, but FGCU lost that battle by seven, 37-30, despite only corralling one less rebound in the first half, 15-14.
Tymell Murphy led the Panthers with a game-high 23 points, including a perfect 10-10 from the free-throw line. Rakeem Buckles, who came in averaging a double-double, added his seventh of the campaign with 10 points and a game-best 13 rebounds. Dennis Mavin tallied 19 points on 7-15 shooting.
The Eagles will look to get back on track following a week off from game action for final exams as they next take to the court on Saturday, Dec. 14, at Alico Arena against Samford. Tipoff is set for 1 p.m., and the contest will be the final home non-conference game of the campaign and the last home game until Dec. 30 and the Atlantic Sun opener opposite Northern Kentucky.
GAME NOTES: The game was FGCU’s third national TV broadcast of the season already as it appeared on Fox Sports 1 … Kevin Boyle (Rahway, N.J./St. Patrick HS/Emerson College) came off the bench to play 10 minutes – seven in the first half – and knocked down a 3-pointer … Comer had just one turnover, and FGCU as a team only had 12 … the Eagles had 11 bench points to FIU’s three, and out-scored the Panthers off turnovers, 18-13 … FGCU also held a 10-5 edge in second-chance points … the Green and Blue was never in serious foul trouble, but was whistled for 21 fouls compared with 13 for FIU.
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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.