FGCU faces two tough road tests this weekend against ETSU and USC Upstate
This weekend, the Florida Gulf Coast University basketball team will take on two conference teams they have beaten this season in East Tennessee State University and USC Upstate. Just three weekends ago FGCU faced both of these teams, beating both in front of record crowds at home. The Eagles will travel to both schools this weekend before returning for their two final home games at home.
The Eagles are now 10-2 in conference play (16-9 overall) entering the weekend, with just six Atlantic Sun games to go in the regular season. They now sit at first place in the Atlantic Sun conference in front of second place Mercer. FGCU’s most recent wins secured their place in the Atlantic Sun post-season tournament.
Against Jacksonville University, the Eagles had the most prolific offense they’ve shown all year. One hundred points for the team is the most ever in an Atlantic Sun game during regulation. The win, 100- 71, was led by usual top performers Brett Comer and Bernard Thompson along with a huge game by redshirt junior Eric McKnight.
McKnight finished the game without missing a shot from the field for the third time this year shooting 11-11, a program record. In addition to his career-best 22 points, “McFlight” added seven rebounds and a block. His shooting performance was the best by an A-Sun player since the 2005- 2006 season.
“Me and coach had a talk about it after the first loss we had when we went up there,” McKnight said, referring to FGCU’s loss to Jacksonville earlier in the year. “It was very personal. I didn’t want to be outshowed today.”
Comer turned in the best game of his career as well against Jacksonville University. He dropped 30 points along with eight assists and one steal. Comer shot a career-high 4-4 from beyond the three-point line and moved into fifth place on the A-Sun all-time career assist list with 545.
Thompson finished the game with 15 points, five rebounds, and three steals. He hit one three pointer and made two of his three free throw attempts.
The win over Jacksonville gave FGCU their ninth Atlantic Sun win this season. The team shot 65.6 percent from the field in the game, the second highest shooting percentage of all time by an Atlantic Sun team.
The game two days later against University of North Florida was not much different for the Eagles. In front of a sellout crowd FGCU’s men’s basketball team beat UNF, 73-46, in a game in which they never trailed. The lead began after Comer found McKnight on the opening play for a neardunk for the third game in a row.
Thompson scored 17 points in this one, moving him into sole possession of second place on FGCU’S all-time scoring list. He is just 116 points behind leader Ryan Hopkins, who scored 1,367 career points. Comer had 10 points and nine assists, and was named Atlantic Sun Conference Player of the Week for his play in both games.
The Eagles dominated the game, outrebounding their opponents 37-30 and scoring 40 points in the paint to UNF’s 18. “We obviously got off to a fast start, got some stops and turnovers and turned them into transition points, which got us a good lead,” coach Dooley explained. “I thought we withstood a dry spell. They went on an 8-0 run, and then from there we sort of teetered around and controlled the first half.”
FGCU will go on the road for two games as they look to get two more crucial conference wins. Both games present potential tie-breaking scenarios for the Atlantic Sun championship next month. The Eagles will play ETSU on Thursday and USC Upstate on Saturday.