FAU knocks off FGCU

Courtesy of FGCUAthletics.com

DUNK CITY, Fla. – The FGCU men’s basketball team (6-4) uncharacteristically squandered a double-figure halftime lead and allowed FAU (5-3) to score 58 2nd-half points as the Eagles fell to the Owls on Tuesday night at Alico Arena, 92-88.

Brandon Goodwin led FGCU with his second double-double of the year as the senior guard delivered 23 points, a season- and game-best 11 rebounds and four assists versus no turnovers in 37 minutes. He led a quintet of Eagle double-figure scorers along with Christian Terrell (14), Antravious Simmons (Miami, Fla./VCU/South Miami HS) (13), Dinero Mercurius (Orlando, Fla./Daytona State/UTRGV/USF/Faith Baptist Christian HS) (13) and Zach Johnson (Miami, Fla./Norland HS) (12).

The Eagles looked poised to bounce back from a tough home loss against RPI No. 6 Middle Tennessee on Saturday night as FGCU built a 45-34 halftime lead. However, FAU shot 56.3 percent (18-32) from the floor in the 2nd half and out-scored the Eagles by 15. The 58 2nd-half points are the 2nd-most FGCU has allowed in its Division-I history (since 2007-08) behind a 59-point performance by Mercer on Jan. 17, 2008.

It’s just the fourth time in the D-I era that the Eagles have lost consecutive home regular-season non-conference games. It also marked just the sixth time under 5th-year head coach Joe Dooley that FGCU has lost when leading at halftime as the Eagles now possess a 74-6 record in such games – with two of those losses occurring this year (at Bowling Green).

“When you allow a team to shoot 56 percent and score 58 points in the 2nd half in your building you’re going to lose,” stated Dooley. “We scored more than enough points to win the game. We’ve got a lot of work to do. We’re not very good right now, and our effort on the defensive end leaves a lot to be desired; we’re going to figure that out quickly.”

The 92 points scored by FAU are tied for the most allowed by a Dooley-coached FGCU team in regulation (92 by Lipscomb on Feb. 27, 2014), and the most surrendered in regulation by any FGCU team since Belmont netted 95 on Jan. 16, 2012.

Once again second-chance points was a key statistic that went against the Eagles as – despite finishing tied on the offensive boards with 13 each – FAU held a 25-11 edge in second-chance points – the most FGCU has allowed all year. Entering Saturday’s game against Middle Tennessee, FGCU had a +43 advantage in second-chance points through the first eight contests of the year, but in the last two games the Eagles are -31 in that category (22-5 edge for MT on Saturday).

The Eagles jumped out to a good start, and with the game tied at 23 with seven minutes remaining in the 1st half, FGCU orchestrated a 13-0 run over the next three minutes – eight of which came from Goodwin (Norcross, Ga./UCF/Norcross HS) – to forge ahead, 36-23. The Eagles maintained that double-figure lead into halftime as the Green and Blue led by 11 at the break after shooting 54.5 percent (18-33) from the floor.

FAU opened the 2nd half on an extended 19-8 run to tie the contest at 53, and the game remained knotted at 69 at the 8:30 mark before FAU streaked to a 7-0 run to create a 76-69 lead in just over a minute.

FGCU battled back, and with 4:30 showing Terrell (Jacksonville, Fla./Providence HS) hit a 3-pointer as Goodwin accelerated into the frontcourt and found the senior guard, who knocked down his third triple of the 2nd half.

However, the Owls weren’t fazed and reclaimed a three-point lead, 85-82, with just over two minutes remaining, and the Eagles weren’t able to get any closer than one the rest of the night.

FAU was led offensively off the bench by Justin Massey with 21 points. Payton Hulsey netted 19 for the Owls – a total matched by Ronald Delph. Gerdarius Troutman added 14, while Anthony Adger tallied 10 for FAU – which connected at a 45.3-percent rate (29-64) from the floor while the Eagles shot 50.7 percent (34-67).

The Owls made more free throws (25) than the Eagles attempted (22) as FAU finished 76 percent from the line (25-33), while FGCU went 14-22 (63.6 percent) – a season low from the charity stripe for the Green and Blue.

FGCU will face another stern test as the Eagles head to Texas to face UT Arlington on Saturday, Dec. 9, at 3 p.m. Eastern. The Mavericks are 7-1 on the year, ranked #2 in the CollegeInsider.com Top 25 Poll and are receiving votes in both the Associated Press Top 25 and the USA Today Coaches Poll. Last year, FGCU erased a 16-point deficit en route to an impressive 85-72 win over UTA at Alico Arena.

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