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Men’s Basketball Ends Losing Streak by Crushing Stetson

Tim Belizaire

After two games on the road, the FGCU men’s basketball team returned to action at home on Jan. 20 against the Stetson University Hatters. In dominating fashion, the Eagles thrashed the Hatters 80-56 to improve to 8-12 overall and 2-3 in ASUN Conference play.

Before this game, FGCU was 7-12 overall and 1-3 in conference play. The Eagles were on a three game losing streak coming in after dropping games against North Florida, Queens and Kennesaw State. The latter two games were both losses on the road 78-75 with the Eagles failing to come back against the Royals and falling on a buzzer beater against the Owls.

Stetson was 11-8 overall and 3-1 in conference play heading into this matchup. The Hatters had just recently fallen in a close loss to Chicago State.

From the start, the Eagles had full control of the game as they got off to a quick 9-0 lead just two minutes and 30 seconds in. The Hatters never had a lead throughout the game. Stetson was forced to call a timeout during their first scoring drought and it wasn’t the only time this happened during the game.

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The lead did shrink considerably at one point when the Hatters pulled the score to 24-18 with the Eagles still leading. However, FGCU went on to outscore Stetson 17-9 to finish up the first half with the Eagles up big, 41-27.

A key player in the first half and over the course of the whole game was junior forward Zach Anderson. Anderson led the Eagles with 14 points, three rebounds and two assists at halftime.

For the team as a whole, FGCU’s fast start to the game really helped push the pace and make the Hatters have to play from behind. Additionally, each time the score got tighter, the Eagles responded well with a scoring run of their own. The key difference between the two teams in their performance to this point was their shooting percentages from the field. The Eagles shot much better at just under 67% in the first half while the Hatters only shot around 43.5%.

An almost identical start occurred to begin the second half as FGCU got off to another fast start with two baskets and a steal before Stetson was forced to call a timeout. Then, just after the timeout was over, junior guard Dallion Johnson made a 3-pointer to put the Eagles up by 21 points.

In just over a minute of play, senior forward Dakota Rivers had a huge impact on the intensity and energy of the game. To start this sequence, Rivers dunked on an alley-oop from senior guard Isaiah Thompson. Rivers then recorded a block on a Stetson layup attempt. Two FGCU possessions later, Rivers hit a 3-pointer on a fast break before both him and a Stetson player were called for technical fouls. This all energized the arena and Rivers hyped up the crowd before being substituted out.

In the end, the Eagles came out on top with the 80-56 win in a dominating effort from start to finish. Both sides of the ball showed out in this game. FGCU’s offense shot 58% from the field and 40% from three. The defense significantly limited Stetson’s offense in this game as well as the Hatters shot just 38% throughout the game and 28% from the three point line.

Anderson led in scoring in the win with a career high 23 points. He also led the Eagles in assists with four. Graduate student and guard Franco Miller Jr. finished second on the team in scoring with 17 points as well as leading the team in rebounds as he and Rivers finished with five. Johnson was the third and final Eagle to finish in double figures as he had 10 points in the effort.

Head coach Pat Chambers spoke after the game on what he thought of Anderson’s performance in the win.

“I thought in the first half, specifically the first 26 minutes, I really thought he let the game come to him. And I thought Isaiah Thompson played like a point guard tonight, he was looking for his teammates,” Chambers said. “But our guys were sharing the ball and they put ZA in a good position to make some really good shots, he hit some tough shots in the first half. He’s playing good basketball right now, we’re gonna need it down the stretch run here.”

Up next for FGCU are two more home games to wrap up the month of January against Lipscomb and Austin Peay. The Eagles will first welcome the Bisons on Jan. 25 and hope to build off of the win against the Hatters going forward.

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About the Contributors
James Curtis
James Curtis, Eagle News Sports Editor
James Curtis is a senior majoring in journalism and minoring in global studies. He is from Tampa, FL, and has known he wanted to be a journalist since taking a journalism class in seventh grade. He has been involved in sports for his whole life, including swimming competitively all the way through high school. His goal now is to be a sports journalist. When not covering sports games or writing stories, he's usually spending his free time with his friends or watching YouTube.
Tim Belizaire
Tim Belizaire, Eagle News Assistant Photo Editor
Tim Belizaire is a junior majoring in journalism. He was born in Brooklyn, NY, and moved to Cape Coral when he was 12. His goal is to either venture into photojournalism or investigative journalism. Tim spends his free time taking pictures or listening to Lana Del Rey for hours.

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