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FGCU hits program-record eight consecutive wins

Jamail Jones drives towards the basket during a home game earlier this season. (EN Photo / Kelli Krebs)
Jamail Jones drives towards the basket during a home game earlier this season. (EN Photo / Kelli Krebs)

The Florida Gulf Coast University men’s basketball team kept the ball rolling this weekend, notching two more conference wins on the road an stretching their win streak to an FGCU D-1 record 8 games.

Jamail Jones continued his upward trend, scoring a career-high 25 points in a 65-59 win over Northern Kentucky and following it up with another 24 point outburst at Lipscomb. It’s no secret that Jones is an X-factor of sorts for the Eagles, as they’ve gone just 4-5 without him in the lineup compared to 15-2 when Jones is on the floor.

Not only did Jones put up big numbers but he was incredibly efficient, shooting 10 for 11 from the floor against the Norse. Jones came up big in the critical moments as well, scoring seven consecutive points for the Eagles on three straight possessions, extending their one-point lead and putting the game out of reach for NKU.

“We got off to a good start, and it ended up being a little bit of a grinder at the end,” said FGCU head coach Joe Dooley. “The guys withstood a couple runs, played through foul trouble and didn’t particularly rebound the ball well, but Jamail stepped up big and made some huge shots to will us to that win.”

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In addition to Jones’ big night, Brett Comer finished in double figures with 11 points and also dished out seven assists.

Two nights later, Jones showed up in a big way yet again, carrying FGCU to a nail-biting 76-74 win over the Bisons of Lipscomb. Again Jones was very efficient on offense, making seven of his nine shots and carrying the load for the Eagles. His two huge performances earned Jones Atlantic Sun Player of the Week honors for the first time this season.

Lipscomb made a furious run in the final minutes of the game to cut the lead down to two points with under five seconds remaining, then immediately fouled FGCU star Bernard Thompson. Thompson missed both free-throws, giving Lipscomb a chance to tie or win the game at the buzzer. The Bisons were unable to convert on a long three-point attempt that would have won the game for them, and FGCU squeaked away with another exciting victory.

“Obviously we didn’t finish the game like we wanted and I’m disappointed in that. We got careless with the ball and didn’t rebound well, they started to hit some outside shots and made it much closer than it should have been,” Dooley said. “But it’s another road conference win, which is always tough to get. Like he did against Northern Kentucky, Jamail played great and set the tone, and everybody else was able to feed off him.”

The Eagles’ ability to hang on and squeak out these close victories should be an encouraging sign for fans. Many times in the past, FGCU has been unable to hang on or make the crucial plays to ensure victory in close games such as these.

The Eagles now find themselves in a familiar position, all alone atop the A-Sun following North Florida’s second loss to USC Upstate.

FGCU faces a crucial stretch with home games against Kennesaw State, Upstate and UNF before going on the road to finish the season at Jacksonville University. It will be interesting to see if the energy at Alico Arena can help the Eagles finish strong and clinch the No. 1 seed in the A-Sun tournament for the second consecutive season.

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