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Eagles set for big A-Sun matchup against Mercer

An exciting weekend has
Dunk City rattling after two
well-played games against
conference foes USC Upstate
and East Tennessee State
University. Florida Gulf
Coast University continues
to roll through Atlantic Sun
competition this season,
improving its record to 6-1 in
conference play. A hard-fought
win over Upstate was the
complete opposite of Saturday
night’s blow-out over ETSU.
The Eagles will travel to
Mercer on Thursday, where
they look to keep their strong
conference play alive. FGCU
has now won six of its seven
conference games and plan
to knock No. 1 Mercer off
the top of the Atlantic Sun
Conference.
In front of the third largest
crowd in FGCU history the
Eagles took on a fierce USCUpstate.
FGCU came out
looking sluggish in the first
half, only shooting 38.7 percent
against Upstate’s 50 percent.
Ty Greene, point guard for
USC Upstate, continually gave
FGCU a hard time with his
shooting, dropping 21 points
and making 50 percent of his
shots against the Eagle’s poor
defense.
The second half was
much different for Dunk City.
Immediately out of the gate
in the second half and from
then on, FGCU constantly
attacked the rim, getting to the
free-throw line 16 times and
making 14 as opposed to not
getting to the line once in the
first half. Something sparked
the Eagles during half time;
Bernard Thompson said, “We
had no energy coming out to
start the game. We had to step
it up coming into the second
half. We just picked it up from
there.”
Thompson and Chase
Fieler finished the night with
17 points and five rebounds.
Thompson was able to grab
four steals, tying a game-high
for him. This game showed
FGCU improvement all over
the court even without star
point guard Brett Comer
playing his best. Comer had 10
points and ended without an
assist for the first time in his
career. In the closing seconds
of the game, Comer was
knocked in the face while going
up for an offensive rebound,
resulting in a broken nose.
With about seven and a half
minutes to go, Eric McKnight
made a key block, which led to
a fast break layup by Comer
that he missed, only to be put
back in on a reverse dunk
by Fieler. This play landed
the Eagles the No. 4 spot on
SportsCenter’s top 10 plays of
the week. It also was a turning
point in the game, giving
FGCU the lead by one in which
they never looked back. Only
up by two in the final seconds,
the Eagles defense managed
to stay strong and force a
turnover where Fieler was
fouled and put to the line to
end the game. FGCU was able
to top USC-Upstate 63-60 in a
thriller.
The game against East
Tennessee State just two days
later went a lot more smoothly
for the Eagles. Having to step
it up with the second-largest
attendance in school history to
back them, FGCU went down
4-3 just three minutes into the
game, but after a 3-pointer
from Thompson gave them the
lead, they never let go and even
extended it to 28 at one point
in the game.
It was more than just
game night last Saturday for
Thompson. He celebrated his
21st birthday by dropping 21
points against ETSU, along
with two steals. To add to
a monster win over East
Tennessee, 90-62, FGCU saw
a new rebounding leader in
Dunk City as Fieler grabbed
10 rebounds, moving him into
first place on FGCU’s all-time
list.
With Comer’s injury,
Dajuan Graf was a player who
needed to step up and help
out a little more on the floor.
Playing more minutes than
Comer for the first time in his
career, he was able to drop
nine points and three assists,
making two threes. Comer was
forced to wear a Rip Hamiltonlike
protective mask over his
face to keep his fractured nose
from getting worse. The mask
did not slow him down. He
collected six points and seven
assists and said “It was weird
having that pressure on your
face. It fogged up on me, but I
would get it cleaned out. It was
fine though, just a little weird.”
Comer claims to be expecting
to wear the mask for four to six
weeks.
FGCU showed a glimmer
of its old Dunk City ways in the
game against ETSU, putting
up seven dunks on the night,
four of which came from spark
McKnight, who ended the
game with 14 points and six
rebounds. “I thought we were
able to maintain composure
and keep our foot on the gas,”
Coach Joe Dooley explained
when discussing the win over
ETSU.

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