Florida Gulf Coast jumped on La Salle early in a matinee game at Alico Arena and held off the Explorers for a 86-77 win.
In his best game wearing the Blue and Green, VCU tranfer Antravious Simmons scored a quick eight points to give the Eagles a 12-3 lead early on. Julian DeBose then drained three shots from beyond the arc and FGCU held a ten point lead at the under-8 media timeout.
While ending a three game losing streak on your home floor is nice, the strong play from both Simmons and DeBose were very encouraging signs as well. Simmons finished with a career high 17 points after not stepping onto the court in a loss against South Dakota on Monday. In a similar fashion, DeBose regained his confidence from deep and seems to be putting the nagging ankle injury behind him.
Filip Cvjeticanin got in on the fun and drained two threes of his own and the Eagles, capitlizing on nine first half turnovers by the Explorers, took a 14 point lead into the lockerroom.
FGCU however could not keep the No. 13 leading scorer in the nation quiet for long; Jordan Price poured in eight points to begin the second half to cut the Eagles lead to ten. The duo of Price and Cleon Roberts carried an Explorers squad with only six scholarship players dressed and brought the deficit to single digits at the under-12 media timeout.
But with contributions from a multitude of backcourt players, Florida Gulf Coast knocked down outside shots against the La Salle zone. Despite strong showings from Price and Roberts, the short-handed Explorers could not get over the hump and draw any closer than seven points in the closing minutes.
With the win, FGCU rose back to a .500 record (7-7) and hosts Eckerd at 4 pm on Saturday, Jan. 2.
•FGCU dominated the glass, 39-29, thanks to a double-double from Antravious Simmons (17 points, 10 rebounds) and 9 boards from Norelia.
•Both Julian DeBose (20 points) and Antraviosu Simmons (17 points) put up career highs in an Eagle uniform.
•The Eagles had five double-digit scorers (DeBose, Simmons, Norelia, Terrell, & Johnson) for the fifth time this season.