Cvjeticanin’s career best double-double not enough for Eagles vs. Iona
There was one question whispering through the crowd at Alico Arena Sunday afternoon: “Where’s McKnight?” After coming off of a loss on the road to North Carolina State, Eagle fans were looking to redshirt junior Eric McKnight to give the Eagles a win at home.
Just minutes before the tipoff between the Florida Gulf Coast University men’s basketball team and Iona College, FGCU Athletics sent out a cryptic press release stating that Eric McKnight’s six-game suspension would be extended indefinitely. McKnight was given a six-game suspension before the 2013-14 season for a “violation of team rules” that occurred in the spring semester. Sunday’s game would have been McKnight’s first game back. “Originally slated as a minimum six-game suspension, Eric will remain sidelined until it is determined that he has reached a satisfactory level of completion in all matters related to his violation of team rules” FGCU Director of Athletics Ken Kavanagh said. Before Sunday, there was no talk of a minimum suspension. FGCU athletics would give no further comment on the situation.
McKnight sat in sweats on the FGCU bench as the Eagles fell to Iona state 90-72 Sunday afternoon. What started as a fast-paced and high scoring game quickly turned sour for the Eagles after a 12-point lead in the second half and the Eagles just simply couldn’t close in on.
“We prepared for McKnight,” Iona head coach Tim Cluess said. The game started with an encouraging dunk from Chase Fieler in the first minute of the game that kept the tempo high throughout the first half, while both teams kept the score within a few points of each other. After another Fieler dunk, the Eagles took a 20-16 lead, but that was quickly answered by a Gaels 20-10 run with eight minutes left in the first half, giving Iona a 52-40 lead going into halftime.
Through the second half, the Eagles were unable to close a 12-point gap that Gaels consistently maintained, ultimately giving them a 90-72 win and FGCU’s first loss at home this season. “We weren’t too aggressive offensively, we weren’t aggressive defensively, we made mistakes,” point guard Brett Comer said. “There’s no excuse no matter what your name is. Last year, that all ended in March. We haven’t been playing the way we need to play to compete. We really need to turn it around quick or it’s gonna be a long year.”
FGCU forward Filip Cvjeticanin has been seeing more minutes on the court in McKnight’s absence, tallying a career-best 10 rebounds and becom ming the ninth player in program history to tally at least 100 career 3-pointers after shooting four or more 3-pointers in the past four games. Comer also had his second 20-point game of the season and a game-high eight assists.
The Eagles fall to a 4-3 record after suffering losses to Nebraska, N.C. State and Iona. Next, the Eagles will take on FIU in Miami at 4 p.m. Saturday. The matchup will be aired nationally on FOX Sports 1 as the Eagles third national TV broadcast of the season.