This one is tough to swallow.
This loss hurts.
This was the year that Florida Gulf Coast University was supposed to make it back to the Big Dance and reclaim the fame that they earned two years ago.
Mercer left. USC Upstate lost key players. This was FGCU’s conference to lose.
And that’s exactly what they did.
They lost the game Thursday night to USC Upstate in the Atlantic Sun semifinals.
Seniors Brett Comer, Bernard Thompson, Nate Hicks and Jamail Jones will likely never play another home game at Alico Arena.
Postgame tears were shed. Head coach Joe Dooley had the sound of disappointment in his words. Thompson barely spoke. They know how bad they needed this game.
FGCU didn’t score its first basket until the 14:11 mark in the first half. Upstate lead the game for over 22 minutes. They built up a 10-point lead in the first half.
But they didn’t give up.
It was a back and forth game all night. There were 10 lead changes and the game was tied for just 5:50.
But at the end, FGCU lost the game. They couldn’t put away Upstate and pesky senior Ty Greene who lead the Spartans with 20 points. And ultimately that caused what could’ve been a great ending for a historic backcourt into a night where many wonder where, or even if, FGCU plays next.
Only time will tell with that. But fans shouldn’t hang their heads about the future. FGCU is just fine for the next few years. Dooley has finally gotten his footing with recruiting and with the system he is running here. He has the support of the fans and more importantly, his players are buying into his system.
So even though I won’t be here to cover this team anymore I know I will be leaving here optimistic.
That was my last men’s basketball game at Alico Arena and although I wish it was a different outcome, I can’t complain about my four years here.
I can speak for everyone at FGCU and in Fort Myers that we thank you Brett and Bernard. What you two have accomplished here will never been duplicated. The energy and the excitement you two brought to FGCU basketball is unreal and it has been an honor to cover you all these years.
Although Dunk City might be dead, FGCU basketball is not.