(20-11, 14-4 ASun)
(9-21, 5-13 ASun)
3/1/2014 | Highland Heights, Ky. | Attendance: 3742
|Stats at a Glance||FGCU||NKU|
|3P FG Percentage||.375
HIGHLAND HEIGHTS, Ky. – Knowing a win would secure the program’s first-ever Atlantic Sun Conference regular-season championship, the FGCU men’s basketball team (20-11, 14-4 A-Sun) started fast and never let up en route to a dominating 92-72 victory at Northern Kentucky (9-21, 5-13 A-Sun) Saturday afternoon which locked up the No. 1 seed in next week’s A-Sun Championship.
Playing in front of hundreds of family and friends, lone senior Chase Fieler (Parkersburg, W. Va./Parkersburg South HS) led a quartet of FGCU double-figure scorers with a game-best 22 points to go along with five rebounds. Brett Comer (Winter Park, Fla./Winter Park HS) added 15, while Jamail Jones (Atlanta, Ga./Montverde Academy/Marquette) finished in double figures for the sixth straight game with 12 points.
Bernard Thompson (Conyers, Ga./Rockdale County HS) recorded the first double-double of the season with 14 points and a season-high 11 rebounds. Comer added a game-high five assists as FGCU shot a blistering 56 percent (33-59) from the floor and never trailed, finishing with its second-highest point total of the campaign.
Mercer also finished with a 14-4 league mark, but split the two meetings with the Eagles. The Green and Blue clinched the top seed and home-court advantage throughout the tournament courtesy of a 2-0 record against the third-place team, USC Upstate (11-7), while Mercer went 1-1 versus the Spartans.
FGCU will begin tournament play against the No. 8 seed, Stetson, on Tuesday, Mar. 4, at 7 p.m. on ESPN3. With a win, FGCU would also host a semifinal matchup on Thursday, Mar. 6, at 6:30 p.m. on CSS. With a victory in that game, FGCU would host the championship final on ESPN2 at 2 p.m. on Sunday, Mar. 9. A complete bracket is attached.
Tickets to all three games are now available by visiting the Alico Arena Ticket Office or by calling 239-590-7145. Student tickets are free, courtesy of FGCU picking up the $5 charge. All other prices vary, and ticket information can be found by visiting the link at the top of this release. For Tuesday’s game, only general admission tickets remain.
Fieler scored FGCU’s first five points to set the tone for the afternoon. After the game was knotted at 5-5, the Eagles went on a 9-0 run, capped by a Nate Hicks (Panama City Beach, Fla./J.R. Arnold HS/Georgia Tech) tip-in. The lead eventually swelled to 14, 24-10, after a Fieler jumper with just under 10 minutes to play in the half. Despite three of their starters – Comer, Fieler and Eric McKnight (Raleigh, N.C./Princeton Day Academy/Iowa State) – sitting for extended minutes in the first half with two fouls, the Eagles still took an 18-point lead into the half, 46-28, following a buzzer-beating 3-pointer from Filip Cvjeticanin (Zagreb, Croatia/American School of Madrid).
In the second half, FGCU never allowed NKU to get closer than 16 points, led by as much as 24 and hit 12 of 14 free-throw attempts to remain unbeaten (4-0) all-time against the Norse.
“We made some shots and our confidence got going early,” first-year head coach Joe Dooley said. “Early in the game we were able to get some stops and get out in transition. They (NKU) were very good offensively and I thought we let down a little bit defensively once we got a big lead, but Bernard was a beast inside and Chase was very efficient.”
“It’s exciting for our guys and for our fans,” Dooley added of the regular-season title. “The program is still young and it’s exciting for our guys and well-deserved because they’ve worked so hard.”
FGCU turned the ball over a season-low-tying seven times and on the other end it turned 10 NKU turnovers efficiently into 14 points. The Norse only missed seven shots in the second half (68.2 percent, 15-22), but didn’t have an answer for FGCU’s offense, which scored 90 or more points for the third time in league play.
Hicks scored eight points and grabbed four rebounds, while Cvjeticanin knocked down three 3-pointers to finish with nine points. McKnight and Dajuan Graf (Charlotte, N.C./Phillip O. Berry Academy) each tallied six points, while Graf added two assists and two rebounds.
For Atlantic Sun Conference Championship ticket information and sales, visit the Alico Arena Ticket Office, call 239-590-7145 or log on to FGCUAthletics.com.
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.