Men's bball advance to A-Sun Championship
Published: Friday, March 2, 2012
Updated: Friday, March 2, 2012 23:03
Florida Gulf Coast (15-16, 8-10 in the Atlantic Sun) lives to play another day. The sixth seeded Eagles shocked even more people as they took down the two seeded Mercer Bears (22-11, 13-5 A-Sun) 62-58, on their home floor March 2nd to earn a spot in the 2012 A-Sun Championship game against the top-seeded Belmont Bruins 7 p.m. Saturday March third on ESPN2.
Sophomore Christophe Varidel gave FGCU a four point lead when he sank two free throws with two seconds left to give the Eagles their second victory in as many days.
"I found myself saying in the second half ‘wow what a great college basketball game," FGCU head coach Andy Enfield said. "I obviously hoped we would pull it out but I thought that both teams fought so hard, both teams did a lot of great things tonight, made some mistakes. But I was more than amazed of the quality of play that both teams showed."
The second half started off all Mercer as they started to pull away leading by nine with 11:22 left in the game. However FGCU kept cutting into the lead and eventually took the lead 57-56 with 2:44 left in the game thanks to a jump shot by freshman Brett Comer. The biggest play of the second half was when freshman Bernard Thompson stole the ball from Mercer guard Travis Smith at the free throw line, drove down the court and fed it to junior Sherwood Brown who was fouled on the shot. He made both free throws to give FGCU a 59-57 advantage.
"Our guys made a commitment the last two days to defend and also rebound. We're not the biggest team physically, we're not the tallest team," Enfield said. "We need five guys to defend and five guys to rebound and when we do that we're a pretty good basketball team."
In the final 2:30, FGCU scored five and limited Mercer to just one point down the stretch in front of a University Center record of 3,497 fans.
"I was really proud of how our guys responded," Enfield said. "I told them ‘Mercer is going to make some runs during this game' and when they did that we didn't lose our composure. A month ago we would've lost our composure and lost by 20, this show's were growing up. In the end they made up their mind and decided they wanted to defend and rebound."
FGCU limited Mercer to just 10 field goals in the second half and held them to just 41 percent all game.
Leading FGCU was Brown with 14 points, Varidel contributed with 13 and FGCU's bench outscored Mercer's 25-11.
FGCU is 0-2 against Belmont this season losing 53-95 on the road and 63-86 at home. So far in the tournament FGCU has held opponents to just 60.5 points a game and scoring 70.5.