Fort Myers, FL– There was a lot of excitement for heading into the game against Siena for the Florida Gulf Coast Eagles. With a 9-game home win streak going up against one the top teams in the MAAC conference, there was plenty to be excited about.
Florida Gulf Coast (5-3) is coming off an NCAA tournament appearance last year and didn’t lose much from that team. Led by lead guards Brandon Goodwin and Zach Johnson the Eagles showed in the first half why they could be make another tournament appearance his March. Orchestrating the pick and roll almost to perfection, the Eagles shot 73 percent from the field and took a comfortable 45-32 lead at halftime. Demetris Morant reaped the benefits of great ball movement and guard play with two thunderous alley-oops in the first half. He lead the Eagles with 12 of his career high 16 points at the half.
FGCU got off to a hot start in the second half, leading 54-37 with 14 minutes to play. They sustained the 14 point lead with until the 6:27 mark in the second half. That’s when lead guard Marquis Wright and big man Brett Bisping led Siena on a 17-7 run and cut the deficit to four at 67-63 with 2:41 remaining. Then with :33 to go Bisping made two free throws to cut the lead to 71-69. After FGCU’s Johnson made one of two free throws with 20 seconds, the Eagles retained possession. Johnson then was fouled, made one of two from the line again to seal the 73-69 FGCU win.
After the win, FGCU coach Joe Dooley commented, “I thought we had good spurts to begin the game, but we kind of turned it off once we got up 17 in the second half.”
Making a huge impact for the Eagles tonight was big men Morant and Marc-Eddy Norelia. Both big men caused havoc all night defensively with their ability to block shots as well as being able to cover and switch onto guards. Offensively these two players have continued to live out the nickname “Dunk City” that the Eagles have taken pride in the past several years as they scored multiple dunks.
For FGCU Goodwin went perfect from the field going 5-of-5 with 14 points to go along with three assists and two steals. Brandon has a good feel for the game where he is constantly in attack mode but not out of control.
Siena fought and scrapped all night but in the end came up short against the Eagles. Coach Jimmy Patsos said “I like are kids. I like our team. We have tough guys and we are not going to quit. Come conference time we will be right there in the thick of things.”
Wright was brilliant all game leading the comeback and finished with 16 points and nine assists while logging 36 minutes without a single turnover. Wright is a savvy point guard who showed a plethora of ways to create opportunities for his teammates.
Fellow teammate Bisping corralled the interior with 15 points and nine rebounds for the Saints. It took some time for Bisping to adjust to the length and athleticism of the FGCU big men. He did adjust in the second half and was key factor to the surging Saints in the last six minutes of the game.
Overall both teams benefited from playing each other tonight. FGCU played against a gritty half-court team who is well coached and disciplined. The press in the last six minutes of the game caused fits for FGCU and will be something good for them to work on before conference. For Siena, they went up against a very athletic team that can only benefit them headed into conference. Siena will be a tough team to beat in the MAAC as they don’t beat themselves.
Up next for Florida Gulf Coast is a home game vs. Florida International on December 11th. Siena has a home game against Bucknell on December 17th.
This article was written by Preston Guiot, a correspondent and scout for NetScouts Basketball. You can subscribe to our RSS feed from the upper right corner of our home page, follow us on Facebook, or on twitter.
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