FORT MYERS, FLA. (Feb. 7, 2013) – Earlier this season, the ETSU men’s basketball team overcame a 19-point, second-half deficit to beat Florida Gulf Coast. Unfortunately for the Buccaneers, that same scenario did not occur again Thursday night.
Building a 12-point halftime lead, FGCU simply piled on the points this time around, leading by as many as 27 in the second half and ultimately avenging that early-season loss with a dominating 67-43 effort inside Alico Arena.
With the win, the first-place Eagles improved to 17-8 overall, 9-3 in Atlantic Sun Conference action. Meanwhile, the Bucs dropped to 7-18 overall, 5-7 in league play.
“It was just a perfect storm tonight, and we obviously did not play very well,” said ETSU head coach Murry Bartow, whose team reverted to the same struggles it had earlier in the season on the offensive end. “We didn’t shoot it well, and defensively we kept giving them too many open looks. What was certainly unexpected was that every guy on our team shot poorly tonight.”
The Eagles, who are now 12-1 in their home arena and actually enjoyed a victory over No. 8 Miami (Fla.) on this floor earlier in the season, were impressive on both ends of the court.
Defensively, they held ETSU to just 23 percent shooting while also blocking a school-record 13 shots on the night. Offensively, the Eagles shot a blistering 56 percent from the field in the first half and outscored the Bucs 40-20 in the paint.
For the first time in several outings, the Bucs struggled offensively in the first half, shooting just 26 percent from the floor and allowing FGCU to build a lead of as many as 15 points at 30-15.
ETSU managed to cut that deficit to 12 at 33-21 by the break, which was surprising considering how well the Eagles shot in the first 20 minutes. The Bucs did force nine turnovers by FGCU and out-rebounded the Eagles 19-17 before the break to keep it close.
After the break, the Bucs were not able to manage anything resembling a comeback, as ETSU connected on just one basket in the first eight minutes of the second half and looked on as FGCU put together a 14-2 offensive run from which the Bucs never recovered.
For the game, FGCU’s Sherwood Brown led all scorers with 17 points, while teammates Eric McKnight and Chase Fieler added 13 and 12 points, respectively. Meanwhile, the Bucs got 12 points from senior guard Jarvis Jones (Memphis), while junior forward Hunter Harris (Nashville) added 10 in the losing effort.
The Bucs will return to action on the road this Saturday, traveling to Deland, Fla., to take on league foe Stetson at 3:15 p.m. For more on ETSU men’s basketball throughout the 2012-13 season, visit ETSUBucs.com and click on the men’s hoops link.