FGCU held a 21 point lead in the first half. When the buzzer sounded marking the end of the second half, the Eagles and Highlanders were deadlocked at 71 a piece. Despite this big collapse at the end of regulation, Florida Gulf Coast endured a mulitude of NJIT threes to win, 82-78, in overtime.
In the first meeting between these two programs, FGCU was expected to have a size advantage down low. But just a few minutes before tip-off, 6-foot-9 forward Demetris Morant was scratched from the starting lineup and declared out for the game. According to Dana Caldwell, Morant was seen on the bench with a boot on the right foot that has bothered him in the past.
Despite the absence of Morant, the Eagles got off to a quick start behind the confident shooting of Julian DeBose. The senior had 10 of the Eagles 14 points at the second media timeout. Filip Cvjeticanin joined in on the three point fun and knocked in a trey off a steal in the backcourt to spark a 9-2 run with around five minutes remaining. And while on the other hand, NJIT was 0/9 from beyond the arc until that point, the Eagles faltered prior to the break.
With Julian DeBose sitting on the bench with two fouls for the final ten minutes of the half, NJIT went on a three point barrage in the closing minutes of the first half to cut the deficit to just 11 points heading into the lockerroom. With DeBose again getting in foul trouble in the 2nd half, the Eagles were forced to turn elsewhere for scoring. Marc-Eddy Norelia worked his mid-range game while Zach Johnson showcased his athleticism and craftiness around the hoop.
Although the Eagles usually stifiling three-point defense (25.6% heading into tonight) initially kept the Highlanders in check, it's tough to keep Damon Lynn quiet forever. The dynamic junior knocked down four threes in the 2nd half, including one from way beyond the arc with 16 seconds that eventually opened the door to overtime.
In the extra five minutes, the young Eagles core maintained their compsure, knocking down five of six from the charity stripe to walk away with a win. It wasn't exactly pretty at times, but FGCU is now on a five game winning streak and 2-0 in conference play.
Around The Atlantic Sun
North Florida 95 - 83 Lipscomb
Trent Mackey (24 points) and Beau Beech (21 points) put on a three point show as North Florida withstood multiple Lipscomb runs to extend their home winning streak to 16 games. Averaging 84.9 points per game (13th in the nation), the Ospreys are the team to beat in the A-Sun and host Kennesaw State on Saturday. Meanwhile Lipscomb has dropped seven in a row and are off to an 0-2 start in conference play.
Stetson 89 - 86 USC Upstate
This back and forth affair featured huge performances from two rising stars in the Atlantic Sun. Hatters freshman Derick Newton poured in 30 points (5/8 3-PT FGs) and converted some clutch free throws down the stretch to secure Stetson's first conference win. Fellow youngster Mike Cunningham tallied 21 points as one of USC Upstate's five double scorers.
Jacksonville 83 - 70 Kennesaw State
Owls guards Kendrick Ray and Yonel Brown kept Kennesaw State in this one for a while but Jacksonville's dominance on the glass and a pleasant surprise, in the form of 15 points off the bench from Josh Adeyeye, lead the Dolphins to victory. Both teams sit at 1-1 in Atlantic Sun play as Kennesaw State now travels to UNF and Jacksonville plays host to Lipscomb.