FGCU wins final non-conference game

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The FGCU men’s basketball team (9-7) set a Division-I program first-half record by scoring 57 points and cruised to a 104-59 victory over NAIA member Webber International (7-8) Tuesday night at Alico Arena in the Eagles’ final non-league contest before Atlantic Sun Conference action commences Saturday night.

Redshirt junior Marc-Eddy Norelia scored all 20 of his game-high points and grabbed all nine of his rebounds in the first half as he finished one rebound shy of his seventh double-double of the year – the third time he’s been one rebound shy of a double-double this year. He led a season-high seven double-figure scorers for the Eagles, who have won three in a row.

Kevin Mickle came off the bench to score a season-high 14 on 6-9 shooting, Christian Terrell netted 13 as he made each of his first three 3-point attempts in the opening 12 minutes and Zach Johnson reached double-figure points for the third-straight game for the first time with 13 points.

Antrevious Simmons just missed his second double-double with 12 points and a game-high-tying nine rebounds, also Rayjon Tucker closed in on his first double-double with 11 points and eight rebounds and Filip Cvjeticanin knocked down three 3-pointers (3-7) for the first time since Nov. 16 and also issued five assists – one more than he had on the entire season entering the game.

The 104 points are the most in a D-I regulation contest in program history, besting the previous record of 101 against Longwood in January of 2012. It also represented the second time this year the Eagles have scored at least 100 points in a game – 104 vs. Youngstown State in triple overtime on Nov. 21 – and that is the first time in D-I program history that multiple 100-point outings have occurred in the same season. D-I program history dates back to 2007-08, while the program’s first season was 2002-03.

The 57 first-half points were the most in any half by the Eagles since they tallied 54 in the second stanza of their NCAA Tournament victory over Georgetown in 2013. The previous first-half D-I program record for points was just 49 – set in February of 2014 against Jacksonville, which was the only other time until Tuesday that the Green and Blue had scored 100 points in a regulation contest under third-year head coach Joe Dooley.

The Eagles finished the contest by shooting a blistering 61.2 percent (41-67) from the floor, the best since going 65.6 percent (40-61) in the aforementioned Jacksonville contest and the fifth-best single-game field-goal percentage in program history. FGCU also connected at a 58.8-percent clip (10-17) from 3-point range, the best since a 66.7-percent clip (14-21) at USC Upstate in February of 2011 and the fourth-best single-game performance in program history.

“The ball moved a lot better today, and that’s something we’ve been talking a lot about,” commented Dooley, whose team issued a D-I program-record 26 assists against just eight turnovers. “It was good to get a lot of the younger guys some minutes today. It also gave us a chance to play against some zone defense, which is good because I think we’ll see quite a bit of that in conference play.”

It took FGCU just five minutes to build a double-figure lead, 20-10, and it quickly swelled to 18, 29-11, only four minutes after that. The advantage would get as large as 28, 53-25, in the first half before the Eagles settled for a 57-33 halftime lead. After Webber trimmed the deficit to 18, 59-41, early in the second half, FGCU responded with an extended 40-7 run over 12 minutes to open up a 51-point lead, 99-48, with five minutes remaining.

Freshman Reggie Reid put together a fine game with seven points, five rebounds and six assists. In addition to his 13 points, redshirt freshman Johnson passed out five assists, had two blocks and recorded a season-best four steals. Freshman Tucker added a season-high four assists as the 26 total helpers are tied for the eighth-most in program history, five shy of the all-time mark.

Nine different FGCU players totaled double-figure minutes, with no one logging more than Tucker’s 29. The Eagles finished with a 45-33 edge on the glass, 16-2 advantage in second-chance points and a 41-15 differential in bench points. FGCU also posted a +20 margin (48-28) in points in the paint, extending the Eagles’ record to 32-1 since 2011-12 when holding at least a +15 edge in paint points.

Daniel Coffey was the lone Webber player to reach double-figure scoring as he totaled 17. The Warriors shot 34 percent from the floor in both halves, but after connected at a 36.4-percent clip (4-11) in the first half from 3-point range, they went just 1-11 (9.1 percent) in the second half.

The Eagles orchestrated the 45-point victory without the services of redshirt senior Julian Debose and redshirt junior Demetris Morant as both starters sat out to rest injuries, but are expected to play in the A-Sun opener.

FGCU will now turn its focus to that A-Sun opener as the Eagles commence league play at home on Saturday at 7 p.m. against Stetson (6-9). The Hatters will open their conference slate on Wednesday by hosting defending champion North Florida (11-6). The FGCU women (12-4 and winners of nine of 10) play the first game a doubleheader on Saturday against the Hatters at 4 p.m.

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