As color commentator J Webb Horton said on the ESPN 3 broadcast "the nest is shaking in the trees!"
That's probably the most accurate statement to describe the atmosphere of Alico Arena on Saturday night. In what will go down as a classic game for the growing program, FGCU came back from down 15 to win 104-101 in triple overtime over Youngstown State. Marc-Eddy Norelia had a record setting night, while Reggie Reid showed unbelievable confidence running the point.
"I thought Marc was terrific, obviously, just numbers-wise with the amount of minutes he put in, and I thought Reggie, for a freshman, played with terrific poise," coach Joe Dooley said.
It took three overtime periods to decide a victor, but after a truly back-and-forth 55 minutes, FGCU was the last team standing. It wasn't a pretty game by any stretch of the imagination, but man was it a fun one. In the first overtime period, Julian DeBose hit a three to tie the game at 84 and send it to a second overtime. In the second overtime period, Francisco Santiago of the Penguins hit a three to send it into triple overtime. But in triple overtime, the Eagles got off to a sloppy start and finally looked like they were ready to cave.
That was far from the case, though, as they continued to claw beak and talon back into it, eventually causing four players for Youngstown State to foul out. From there, it was another monster three pointer from DeBose that gave the Eagles the lead for good.
The man behind the entire comeback was the third option of the night given the chance to run the point. Reid's play in the second half and on was the x-factor of the game. The true freshman made some veteran plays down the stretch, totalling a career high 18 points and 9 assists. At times he facilitated the offense like a senior, and wreaked havoc on the defensive end with his quickness. His 40 minutes of play catapulted his team back into the game.
"I was just playing through emotions and it just opened up, and they were jumping out in the passing lanes, so it was giving me great driving lanes," Reid said.
The Eagles started hot, but immediately cooled off as the Penguins led 42-33 at half. Out of the locker room, they couldn't gain any ground, and even found themselves trailing by 15 three minutes into the second half. FGCU started to chip away after that, getting to within seven on multiple occassions. Down by seven is where the Eagles found themselves with just under four minutes to go. From there, clutch three pointers from Reid and DeBose pulled them within two, and then a dunk from Norelia tied the game at 67.
The Penguins were able to grab a 69-67 lead with 57 seconds to go, and Filip Cvjeticanin, who had a rare off-night shooting the ball, missed a three at the other end to give the ball back to Youngstown State. Christian Terrell wasn't ready to go quietly, though, and he stole the ball, passed it ahead to Norelia, who again slammed it to tie the game 69-69 and send it into overtime.
Norelia had what was by far the best game of his career to date, tying FGCU's Division-1 single game scoring record with 34 points, and set a career high with 18 rebounds. He also played a game high 52 of the 55 minutes. Norelia credits his dominant start to being used to the situations after going through it last year.
"I've got one year to go through it, so I know what to expect and how the pace is going to be and the speed and everything, so it's a little bit easier to adapt to the game," he said. "Last year was kind of like my first year playing, so I had to kind of learn on the fly."
- Terrell had an inefficient night shooting the ball (4-18), but totalled 12 points and 18 rebounds for his first career double-double
- Rayjon Tucker played over 22 straight minutes between the second half and first overtime period, playing a grand total of 38 minutes. He rewarded Dooley's trust with 10 points and 4 rebounds
- Before getting into foul trouble, Kevin Mickle scored 9 points (4-5), and brought down 6 rebounds
- FGCU's triple overtime game is the longest game ever held at Alico Arena