Heading into Saturday night's matchup with Atlantic Sun leading North Florida, FGCU had dropped four games in a row and things we're not looking bright in Fort Myers. But you couldn't tell from the way the Eagles came out of the gate. Fueled by seven early points from Julian DeBose, Florida Gulf Coast opened the game with a 22-4 run.
Withstanding a few North Florida runs throughout the contest, the Eagles ended their four game skid by knocking off the Ospreys, 81-65, for an enormous home victory.
Returning from a leg injury, Demetris Morant, as well as Brian Greene Jr., were inserted into the starting lineup for tonight's game. The different look seemed to give the Eagles some much needed energy, as they got out in transition and took advantage of North Florida's thin lineup to open up the early lead. It didn't hurt that the Ospreys started 0/6 from beyond the arc either.
Morant's presence as a rim-protecter again proved to be a complete game changer for the Eagles. In similar fashion to last week, FGCU dominated the points in the paint, 48-18, but they also held the Ospreys to just 29% (10/35) from three point land. This added aspect that comes from Morant's return should leave #DunkCity fans optimistic for a strong finish this season.
But Morant picked up his second foul with 4:29 remaining in the first half and promptly went to the bench. Behind a rare outside and inside attack, North Florida then went on a 15-4 run to end the half and take a 35-34 lead into the lockerroom.
After the break however, Florida Gulf Coast was able to utilize their depth to run in transition, just as they did to begin the game. This aggresiveness lead to both Trent Mackey and Chris Davenport picking up their 3rd fouls early in the 2nd half. This was detrimental for a team that's lineup only goes seven deep on most nights. The Eagles bigs took full advantage of this opportunity and all ended in double figures scoring.
FGCU held on to defeat North Florida and move to 14-11 (5-4) on the season. The Eagles, sitting in second place, are still two games back of North Florida and Jacksonville, who are tied for the top spot in the Atlantic Sun.