Early in the contest, it looked as if the Eagles might run away with this one. But the history between these two A-Sun squads deemed that this would go down to the wire.
FGCU jumped out to an early lead, grabbing an 11 point edge with 15:02 remaining in the first half. This was due to the aggressiveness of Bernard Thompson and Julian DeBose; they both let it fly from beyond the arc. The latter tallied a game-high 14 points at halftime.
"He is a really good player, were asking a lot from him from an offensive standpoint as well as a defensive standpoint. He continues to be another option for us," head coach Joe Dooley said.
But the Spartans were able to crash the offensive glass, cutting the deficit to just 5 with a few minutes remaining before the break. This hurt the Eagles ability to then get out in transition.
"When you don't rebound the ball cleanly, you inbound the ball more so than running," Dooley said. "We've been rebounding the ball pretty well but tonight, giving up 17 offensive rebounds, 13 in the first half, is gonna hurt your ability to run."
Also making it easier for Upstate to close the gap was the absence of senior point guard Brett Comer. The floor general picked up his second foul with 12:32 remaining, forcing Dooley to send him to the bench for the remainder of the first half.
After the break, the Eagles cooled off from three and needed to look for other options. Fortunately, Comer was back on the floor and got UNLV transfer Demetris Morant involved. The 6-foot-9 forward racked up 7 points and 6 rebounds in the second half. His solid performance was mirrored by center Nate Hicks, who proved to be a forcing in the paint (8 rebounds and 2 blocks).
Second Chance Points - FGCU: 19 | Upstate: 11
Julian DeBose: 18 points (5/8 FGs), 4 rebounds, 3 assists.