(12-9, 6-2 A-Sun)
(16-5, 7-1 A-Sun)
1/23/2014 | Hawkins Arena - Macon, Ga. | Attendance: 3500
|Stats at a Glance||FGCU||MER|
|3P FG Percentage||.059
MACON, Ga. – Chase Fieler recorded the fifth double-double of his season with 13 points and 10 rebounds and Bernard Thompson added a game-high 21 points, but it wasn’t enough to overcome a 35-percent shooting performance from the FGCU men’s basketball team (12-9, 6-2 Atlantic Sun Conference) as the Eagles fell, 68-55, to host Mercer (16-5, 7-1 A-Sun) Thursday night in front of a sellout crowd in Hawkins Arena.
Thompson (Conyers, Ga./Rockdale County HS) led FGCU in scoring for the sixth time this year, tallying 14 of his points in the first half and 11 in the opening 10 minutes and 30 seconds. Fieler (Parkersburg, W. Va./Parkersburg South HS) grabbed exactly 10 boards for the sixth time this season, including back-to-back games and three of the last four outings. Brett Comer (Winter Park, Fla./Winter Park HS) added 10 points, five rebounds and a team-best four assists as he moved into 8th place on the A-Sun’s all-time assist list with 529.
Trailing 34-28 at the half, the Eagles trimmed their deficit to only two points, 34-32, early in the second half. However, over the next 12 minutes, the Bears – who have now won 41 of their last 45 games at home – went on a 25-7 run to take a 59-39 lead with 6:30 to play. The Green and Blue fought back to make it a single-digit game on two occasions, but ultimately dropped to 0-7 against the Bears on the road in the regular season.
“I thought that Mercer, especially in the second half, controlled the pace of the game,” head coach Joe Dooley said. “Their defense was very good and ours wasn’t – we gave up layups. We emphasized easy baskets, and we gave up a ton of easy baskets.”
FGCU made just one 3-pointer on the night as the Eagles shot 6 percent (1-17) from beyond the arc – by far its worst performance of the campaign. After connecting at a 44-percent clip in the first half (12-27), FGCU went only 9-33 (27 percent) in the second half to finish with its second-worst field-goal percentage of the year.
Mercer shot 41 percent (24-58), a percentage aided by the aforementioned uncontested points in the paint, as the Bears only went 32 percent from 3-point range (8-25), five of which came in the opening 20 minutes.
Eric McKnight (Raleigh, N.C./Princeton Day Academy/Iowa State) grabbed nine rebounds, one shy of his career high, while adding four points. The FGCU bench, which scored a season-high 32 points against ETSU Saturday, only tallied seven on Thursday as Dajuan Graf (Charlotte, N.C./Phillip O. Berry Academy) netted five points while adding two steals, and Filip Cvjeticanin (Zagreb, Croatia/American School of Madrid) contributed a bucket.
Mercer was led by 18 points and 11 assists from Langston Hall, while Daniel Coursey added a double-double as well with 14 points and a game-best 12 rebounds. Twelve different Bears logged game action, and nine of them scored as Mercer held a 20-7 edge in points off the bench.
FGCU held the A-Sun’s leading offense nearly 14 points below its average of 81.8 per game as Mercer scored in the 60s for just the second time in conference play. Conversely, the Eagles scored in the 50s for the first time since Dec. 19 at Mississippi State.
The loss moves Mercer to the top of the league ledger by itself, while FGCU slides to second place, one game behind the Bears but one game in front of third-place UNF at 5-3. FGCU has now lost to Mercer each of the past two years on the Bears’ home floor during the regular season. However, FGCU bounced back to knock Mercer out of the A-Sun Championship each time on its home floor, in the semifinals in 2012 and in the title game in 2013.
FGCU remains in Georgia to take on Kennesaw State (4-17, 1-7 A-Sun) Saturday. Tipoff is set for high Noon, and the game will be broadcast on ESPN3 and available on the WatchESPN platform. The Owls are coming off a three-point loss at home to Stetson Thursday night.
GAME NOTES: FGCU committed 15 turnovers … Mercer had 17 assists compared with nine for FGCU … Coursey added four blocks and three steals … the Eagles had 14 fastbreak points … Thompson added five rebounds and eclipsed the 20-point plateau for the 13th time in his career … Fieler is now fourth on FGCU’s all-time scoring list with 1,095 points and became the Eagles’ only player in program history with 1,000 points and 600 rebounds.
All 2013-14 men’s basketball season tickets are selling quickly, and only a limited amount remain. Fans can reserve their seat(s) by visiting the Alico Arena Ticket Office, calling 239-590-7145 or logging on to FGCUAthletics.com/Tickets.
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