FORT MYERS, Fla. – The Stetson’s men’s basketball team’s 2013-14 season came to an end Tuesday night as the eighth seeded Hatters lost 77-55 to top seeded Florida Gulf Coast in the Atlantic Sun Conference Quarterfinals at Alico Arena.
“Florida Gulf Coast played really well. They’re a very talented team with good leadership,” Stetson head coach Corey Williams said in his post-game press conference. “They are a formidable opponent, and they’re going to do well in this Atlantic Sun Tournament.”
The Eagles (21-11) looked to be on a similar to path to that of last season when FGCU won its first ever A-Sun Championship and went on to advance to the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament as a 15 seed.
Although they came in confident, the Hatters (7-24) couldn’t get anything going offensively to start the game.
“We thought that we could come in here and win the game,” Williams said. “We felt like the last time we played them it was a great game.”
It was. Back on Jan. 21 Stetson lost in Fort Myers to FGCU by a score of 71-68 on a last second three pointer by the Eagles’ Bernard Thompson. But like that regular season loss, Stetson gave up a big lead to Florida Gulf Coast in the early going, trailing 10-2 four minutes in.
“When you start missing shots you start second guessing yourself,” said Williams of the early woes. “I think if our shots go in early, and we get some easy baskets, then we would have felt okay. We could have settled in a little bit.”
Instead the Eagles continued rolling, and extended their lead to 13 points near the midway point of the first half, at 17-4. With Stetson shooting having gone ice cold, and FGCU using the sellout crowd to ignite its offense, the Eagles cruised to a 41-21 lead at the break.
There was no quit in the Hatters though. Fueled by a career high 13 points from freshman B.J. Glasford, Stetson turned a 27-point early second half deficit into just 15 points midway through the second. A conventional three-point play by Glasford made it 63-48 with 10 minutes remaining.
On this night, though, FGCU was just too good. The defending league champions finished strong for the 77-55 victory and advanced to Thursday’s semifinals to take on visiting ETSU.
Chase Fielder led all players with 17 points for FGCU, while Thompson finished with 16 points, including two crucial three-pointers in the first half to spark an Eagle run. Eric McKnight added 15, while Jamail Jones chipped in with 10.
Point guard Brett Comer put forth a great all-around game, totaling nine points, nine assists, and a game high seven rebounds.
Those seniors were really hurting,” Williams said of the atmosphere in the locker room after the game. “They wanted to win. I hugged each one of them and told them all how proud I was of them.”