ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) Dwayne Bacon scored 25 points and Jonathan Isaac added 17 points and 10 rebounds to help the third-seeded Florida State Seminoles hold off No. 14 Florida Gulf Coast 86-80 in the first round of the NCAA Tournament late Thursday night.
The Seminoles (26-8), making their first appearance since 2012 in the NCAAs, advanced on in the West Region.
The Eagles (26-8) saw their tournament hopes end in the first round for the second straight year. But FGCU made it interesting in the waning moments as the Seminoles let a sizeable lead slip away because of missed free throws and untimely fouls. Isaac and Xavier Rathan-Mayes made enough plays down the stretch to not allow the lead to slip completely away.
In a game that was defined by athletic play and exciting shots on both ends, it was Florida State that was able to deliver more often in a game that was close down the stretch. The Seminoles had the size and athleticism advantage, which made it difficult for the Eagles to get to the paint.
FSU outscored the Eagles in the paint 44-36 and outrebounded them 46-26.
Brandon Goodwin led FGCU with 28 points and Zach Johnson added 17 points.
Both teams like to dominate the paint, but the Eagles found that hard to do with 7-foot-1 Michael Ojo and 7-4 Christ Koumadje taking turns protecting the rim. That forced FGCU to rely heavily on its perimeter shooting, which wasn’t the Eagles strength Thursday night.
The Seminoles had nine blocked shots on the night while holding the Eagles to 29 percent shooting from 3-point range and 41 percent from the field. FSU shot nearly 56 percent from the field while shooting primarily high-percentage shots.
Florida Gulf Coast was in the NCAA Tournament for the third time in five years. FGCU is still best known for its “Dunk City” run to the Sweet Sixteen in 2013.
Florida State plays Xavier during the second round of the NCAA Tournament on Saturday.