Midway through the second half on Thursday, the FGCU men’s basketball team looked dead in the water.
They trailed Lipscomb by 18 on the road, with under 13 minutes to play, in a game where the Eagles didn’t get a shootaround, and the team had to buy some players gear because it didn’t arrive after a wacky weather-delayed travel. It wouldn’t have been a shock at all walk away and come back to a 15-point Bisons win.
Instead, the Eagles ripped off a mind-blowing 33-4 run, held Lipscomb without a field goal for nearly 10 minutes, and pulled off the greatest comeback in program history, en route to an 88-83 win over the Bisons at Allen Arena in Nashville.
“I thought it was a was a good character night,” Eagles coach Joe Dooley said. “When the guys got ourselves into a little jam we did a good job of chipping away. Our offensive efficiency got better and obviously when you get some stops it’s a lot easier for your offense to be efficient. You’re not sprinting back in transition on defense which we were for a good portion of the second half.”
After trailing 48-40 at the half, the Eagles found themselves getting buried by the Bisons to open the second half. FGCU(13-8, 4-0 ASUN) had led 38-35 with 3:41 to go in the first half, but after starting the game 16-of-20 from the floor began to cool, hitting only two of their next 11 shots as Lipscomb stretched the lead all the way to 66-48 after a pair of back to back layups by backup guard Greg Jones.
“We were a little tight and did some uncharacteristic things,” Dooley said, adding he told his players to “just relax and play.”
“Second chance points and turnovers were killing us. We had 14 turnovers in the first half and that turned into 16 points and eight second chance points. We needed to overcome adversity.”
Overcome they did.
Dinero Mercurius, one of three FGCU players that the team had to buy new shoes for in Nashville on Thursday because his bag was lost in transit, hit a three from the corner. After a pair of free throws by Ricky Doyle, Lipscomb’s Rob Marberry hit a layup in the post with 12:00 to go to give the Bisons a 68-53 lead.
It would be Lipscomb’s last basket for nearly 10 minutes of game time.
The Eagles reeled off 17 points in a row, starting with a three from Christian Carlyle, and ending with an Antravious Simmons layup which brought the Eagles all the way back to a 70-68 lead with 6:32 remaining.
Lipscomb(11-8, 1-3) tied it after a pair of Michael Buckland free throws, but the Eagles weren’t done, scoring another 11 in a row, with Brandon Goodwin’s free throws with 3:05 to go putting FGCU ahead 81-70.
Goodwin led the Eagles with 22 points, but had just two at the half. The Eagles’ star senior scored 10 of his points in the game’s final five minutes, as Lipscomb finally ended their slump and hit a trio of threes back-to-back-to-back to attempt a comeback.
“He didn’t play well in the first half, but you sort of leave him alone because he’ll figure it out,” Dooley said of Goodwin. “He did a good job of not only getting involved but getting his teammates involved.”
The Eagles had an odyssey getting to Nashville for Thursday’s game. Their flight out of Fort Myers was delayed five different times, not taking off to Atlanta until nearly 10 p.m.. Then they were stuck on the tarmac at Atlanta for another hour or so, eventually getting off the plane around 1 a.m. Thursday morning.
With the connecting flight long gone, the Eagles spent the night in Atlanta, before taking a bus to Nashville, arriving around 2 p.m. The team skipped shootaround, and while team staff tried to track down missing bags, by game time they were still missing a few, including the bags of three starters, Mercurius, Michael Gilmore, and Christian Terrell. They had to buy them new shoes to wear just hours before tip-off.
Sports information director Jason MacBain chronicled the Eagles’ crazy travel nightmare to Nashville on his Twitter page.
at Kennesaw State, Saturday
at North Florida, Wednesday
vs Jacksonville, Jan. 27
vs North Florida, Jan. 29
at Jacksonville, Feb. 3
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