12/23/2013 | Continental Tire Las Vegas Classic | Attendance: 1347
|Stats at a Glance||FGCU||RAD|
|3P FG Percentage||.471
LAS VEGAS – Chase Fieler recorded his third double-double of the season, but Radford’s Kyle Noreen hit a 3-pointer in the closing seconds, and Fieler’s half-court effort at the buzzer fell off the front of the rim as the Highlanders (8-4) spoiled Eric McKnight’s season debut and handed the FGCU men’s basketball team (6-7) a 64-63 loss at the Continental Tire Las Vegas Classic in Orleans Arena.
Fieler (Parkersburg, W. Va./Parkersburg South HS) finished with 21 points and 10 rebounds for his third double-double in the past five games. Bernard Thompson (Conyers, Ga./Rockdale County HS) knocked down four 3-pointers to finish as the lone other double-figure scorer for the Eagles with 12 points.
With the game tied at 61-61 with less than a minute remaining, Thompson missed a 3-pointer, but Fieler grabbed the rebound and added the put-back to give FGCU a 63-61 lead with 39 seconds remaining. On Radford’s ensuing possession, Noreen – who entered the game with just two made 3-pointers all year – hit his third 3 of the game from the wing.
FGCU took the ball out of bounds and immediately raced up the floor where Thompson had a relatively open look from the top of the arc but missed with 5 seconds left. Radford corralled the rebound and the Eagles immediately fouled twice to get the Highlanders into the bonus. With 3 seconds showing, the Highlanders missed the front end of a 1-and-1, Fieler grabbed the board, took a few dribbles and pulled up from mid court where his shot was on line but bounced off the front of the rim.
“We have to do a better job of understanding time, score and momentum. I thought there were a couple swings where we turned it over or took a quick shot when we didn’t need to,” head coach Joe Dooley said. “To their credit, we made some mistakes and they took advantage of them; that’s what good teams do – and they’re a good team.
“I think we’ve made some progress in the last two weeks, but there’s still some things we need to work on and one of those is time, score and momentum in the final minutes,” Dooley added.
After sitting out the first 12 games of the season for a violation of team rules, redshirt junior McKnight (Raleigh, N.C./Princeton Day Academy/Iowa State) made his return to the FGCU lineup Monday, providing the Eagles some much-needed depth down low.
Against the Virginia-based school in FGCU’s non-conference finale he scored seven points on 2-3 shooting and 3-4 from the free-throw line. The 6-9 forward added three rebounds, two blocks and a steal in 25 minutes of action of the bench.
Brett Comer (Winter Park, Fla./Winter Park HS) issued seven or more assists for the sixth time this year as he finished with a game-high seven and added nine points. Jamail Jones (Atlanta, Ga./Montverde Academy/Marquette University) contributed eight points and four rebounds, including a pair of steals and 3-pointers.
The first-ever meeting between the two schools was a back-and-forth affair all afternoon as the score was tied 10 times and the lead changed hands on 10 other occasions. Neither team led by more than six, and both teams shot 47 percent from the field as the Eagles went 23-49 and the Highlanders connected on 26-55 attempts.
The two squads were tied at the half, 32-32. Radford held its largest lead of the game, 12-5, with a little less than 13 minutes on the clock. The Eagles then rattled off six straight in a little over a minute, and on a pair of Fieler free throws reclaimed a 13-12 edge. The teams traded buckets until the 4:15 mark when Comer knocked down a 3 to put FGCU up six, 30-24. But Radford had a response this time and closed the stanza on an 8-2 run.
FGCU opened up a 47-41 lead early in the second half following a Jones’ 3, but Radford responded with a 9-2 run over the next three minutes to go back in front, 50-49. The clubs went back-and-forth from there until the final seconds.
Javonte Green led Radford with a game-high 25 points, and R.J. Price was the lone other double-figure-scoring performer with 13 points.
The Green and Blue is now 6-7, one year after finishing the non-league slate 8-5. FGCU returns to action as it tips off Atlantic Sun Conference play at home on Monday, Dec. 30, against Northern Kentucky. Tipoff is set for 7 p.m. from Alico Arena on ESPN3 as the Eagles will begin their A-Sun title defense.
GAME NOTES: FGCU shot 47 percent from 3-point range (8-17) … Dajuan Graf scored four points and issued two assists … Nate Hicks added two points and four rebounds … the Eagles had just 12 turnovers … FGCU out-scored Radford in bench points, 19-5 … the Eagles had a season-high five dunks.
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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.