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Men’s Basketball Defeats Jacksonville University for First ASUN Conference Win

Jessica Piland

The first week of the new year marked ASUN conference play for FGCU’s men’s basketball team. The Eagles were set to play the 9-5 Jacksonville University Dolphins, who entered this game with the best nonconference record among ASUN Conference schools.

FGCU carried some momentum into this contest after a monumental win against seventh ranked Florida Atlantic University at Alico Arena. This raised their record to 6-9 for nonconference play and marked their third win in a row.

This game marked a return for senior Isaiah Thompson, who had been out with an upper body injury since the Eagles’ game against the Florida International University Panthers on Nov. 29. 

As tipoff began, senior Keeshawn Kellman struck first, scoring the Eagles’ first points of the game. The Dolphins rallied back by scoring four points themselves. Both teams continued to go back and forth before FGCU regained the lead to make it 7-6.

The Eagles did not give up the lead for the rest of the game. This lead grew as Thompson made his way onto the court. Thompson had an instant impact for the Eagles’ offense as he scored the next eight points.

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Junior Zach Anderson suffered a face injury towards the end of the first half after taking an elbow to the face while driving to the basket. He was able to take his foul shots after quickly getting his eyebrow taped. He made both shots and scored a jumper to go into halftime.

FGCU had a 37- 22 lead heading into the half. One aspect that allowed FGCU to hold a 15-point lead had been their shooting. They were 52% from the field, 50% around the three point line and 100% at the foul line. The Eagles have outperformed their season average in each of these categories up to this point in the game.

The second half saw the Eagles obtain their greatest lead of the game of 22 points. Jacksonville’s aggressive defense allowed them to close this advantage. They pressured FGCU into 20 turnovers throughout the game. The Dolphins were able to score 12 points from these turnovers during the second half.

FGCU fended off the Dolphins’ late charge to win, 80-70. This was due to their improved rebounding throughout the game to get the second chance opportunities they needed to put the game away. These rebounds forced the Dolphins to keep fouling to the Eagles’ advantage, where they ended the game 27/34 from the foul line. This win marked the Eagles’ fourth win in a row, which tied their longest losing streak from earlier in the season. 

“The schedule was brutal. November, early December. Now we’ve got a couple of home games, which it’s nice to be home. Obviously, we play better at home. So, a little momentum is good for us going into Saturday,” head coach Pat Chambers said. “Again, it’s about confidence, right? I think we got a confident group right now.”

The story of the game was the return for Thompson, who scored 17 points in his first game back. 

“I was just excited to be out there with my teammates, honestly I missed playing with them. And I think my experience really helped us out there today,” Thompson said.

FGCU returns to Alico Arena on Jan. 6 to play the North Florida Ospreys in their second ASUN Conference game.

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About the Contributors
Jeffrey Hrunka
Jeffrey Hrunka, Eagle News Assistant Sports Editor
Jeffrey Hrunka is a junior double majoring in communications and journalism with a concentration in public relations. Jeffrey is from Fort Myers where his interest in sports journalism originated after falling in love with the world of motorsports. When he’s not working for Eagle News, he is usually spending time with friends, watching the New York Giants lose, or chilling in the pool.
Jessica Piland
Jessica Piland, Eagle News Photo Editor
Jessica Piland is a senior majoring in political science and minoring in global studies. She found her passion for photography during her senior year of high school after shooting some film for fun with her grandfather’s camera from the 80s. In addition to her work as photo editor for Eagle News, she works as a staff photographer for FGCU Athletics and is a photography intern with the University Marketing and Communications department. As she enters her third year as photo editor, she is excited for the fun stories, campus events, and breaking news that Eagle News will be covering!

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