Stetson (15-15) vs. Florida Gulf Coast (22-10)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Friday, March 8, 8 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Hawkins Arena (3,500) -- Macon, Georgia. Television: CST, CSS. Home Record: Stetson 8-6, FGCU 15-1. Away Record: Stetson 6-9, FGCU 6-9. Neutral Record: Stetson 1-0, FGCU 1-0. Conference Record: Stetson 11-7, FGCU 13-5. Series Record: Series is tied, 6-6.
GAME NOTES: The Eagles of Florida Gulf Coast are back in action on Friday following a day off, as they clash with the third-seeded Stetson Hatters in the semifinals of the 34th annual Atlantic Sun Conference Tournament at Hawkins Arena in Macon, Georgia.
The Eagles, who are the second seed in the tourney, are relative newcomers to the league and have only a 3-1 mark in the event to show for their efforts, thanks partly to a 73-63 win over North Florida on Wednesday in the first game of the quarterfinals. Last season, FGCU made it all the way to the title tilt as the sixth seed versus Belmont, but bowed to the Bruins in an 83-69 final.
As for the Hatters, they've had to make a quick turn-around after taking out East Tennessee State on Thursday afternoon, 67-46. The win moved Stetson to 9-19 in this tourney all-time, but like so many of the currently members the Hatters have not taken home the big prize yet.
The teams split their two meetings during the regular season with each winning on their home floor. The Eagles delivered a 96-65 blowout in the first contest in late January, but Stetson returned the favor a month later, 80-71. With those results, the all-time series now stands at an even 6-6.
The survivor of this meeting will be back in action on Saturday afternoon in the championship game, giving the winner an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament,
Down by three points at the break on Thursday, the Hatters came out in the second half with a more forceful defensive approach, limiting East Tennessee State to a mere seven made field goals and 2-of-15 shooting beyond the arc. Willie Green fought hard in the paint for Stetson as he logged a double-double with 13 points and 13 boards, while Adam Pegg came up a rebound shy of his own double-double as he tallied a team-best 17 points. Joel Naburgs pitched in with 16 points as the team survived 16 turnovers and 5-of-18 shooting on the perimeter.
Stetson has had a different leading scorer in each of the last three games, but overall the top man is Pegg with his 15.6 ppg, although not that far behind is Chris Perez who is responsible for 15.1 ppg. Aaron Graham (11.5 ppg) and Naburgs (10.2 ppg) have combined to nail 120 3-pointers for the program, the latter also setting up teammates with 119 assists over the course of 30 starts.
While the offense was shooting only 39.4 percent from the floor for the Eagles, the defense was forcing North Florida into 19 turnovers two days ago, enough to give FGCU the edge and the win. Chase Fieler came up a rebound shy of a double-double as he tallied a team-best 22 points, followed by Bernard Thompson with 18 points and Sherwood Brown who tallied 14 points and pulled down seven boards of his own,
On a squad that is producing a solid 72.7 ppg, Brown is the top man in the scoring department with 15.2 ppg, thanks to a team-best 63 3-pointers. Making Brown even tougher to guard is the fact that he is also first on the glass with 6.3 rpg as well. Thompson (14.2 ppg) and Fieler (12.2 ppg) have combined to make another 75 triples, with many assists coming from Brett Comer (7.5 ppg) who is one of the best in the nation with close to seven dishes per contest.
Able to recoup and grab some needed rest, the Eagles should be in better shape to come out on top in this meeting, but they'll need their defense to be on point for a full 40 minutes.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Florida Gulf Coast 67, Stetson 63
03/08 10:33:24 ET