It was a historic Thursday night at Alico Arena. FGCU, powered by sophomore guard Zach Johnson, defeated Stetson to win its first outright Atlantic Sun regular season championship. The two teams will rematch on Monday night in the opening round of the A-Sun tournament.
The Hatters, despite their deceiving record, have given the Eagles trouble recently. Heading into the night, the past two contests dating back to last year were decided by just a total of three points.
In the final regular season game of this season, Stetson got off to a hot start and lead FGCU 15-5 early on. The Eagles struggled to break down the Hatters zone and couldn't seem to hit their stride from long range. Coming off the bench, freshman Raysean Scott Jr. gave FGCU a nice spark as he's done so many times before.
Zach Johnson also started to catch fire, knocking down two threes in the final minutes of the first half to give the Eagles a one point lead heading into the break.
Despite its shooting woes (sans Johnson), FGCU looked to be pulling away from the Hatters thanks to an 18-7 advantage on the offensive glass. Consequently, the Eagles dominated the Hatters in second chance points as well, 26-6.
But the pesky Hatters, as they've done repeatedly in the past, kept knocking down big shot after big shot to stick around. Johnson, however, continued to pour it on - scoring 18 of his 24 points on the night in the second half. The exclamation point was a thundering baseline dunk with 56 seconds remaining.
Zach Johnson: 24 points (6/11 3-PT FGs), 6 rebounds, & 3 assists
Brandon Goodwin: 18 points & 8 rebounds
Atlantic Sun Tournament Bracket