17 Nov No. 25 USC Holds Off Men’s Hoops, 78-61, in Front of Near Sellout Crowd
FORT MYERS, Fla. – In front of a near sellout crowd of 4,509 fans at Alico Arena, No. 25 USC pulled away in the second half for a 78-61 win over the FGCU men’s basketball team on Tuesday night in the Dunk City Reunion Game. The event featured the return of Trojans head coach Andy Enfield who led the Eagles to the 2013 NCAA Sweet 16 as the first-ever No. 15 seed to do so. It also came on the heels of Monday’s enshrinement of the 2012-13 team into the FGCU Athletics Hall of Fame as part of the inaugural class.
The loss dropped the Eagles to 1-2 on the year as they look to bounce back on Sunday at home against Eckerd (6 PM/ESPN+), while the Trojans, who were the first top-25 team to play against FGCU in Alico Arena improved to 3-0.
“I thought it was a competitive game tonight and don’t think the final score was indicative of how close it was at times,” said head coach Michael Fly. “The 3-to-4 minute stretch right before halftime really hurt us where the game was neck-and-nick and then USC went on little run before the break. We’ve played back-to-back teams now that were in the Sweet 16 and Elite Eight and anyone who watched those thought, at least at points, that this team could win those games. We don’t do moral victories, but when our team has played together as much as USC and Loyola, I think we have a chance to be a very good team – right now we’re good in stretches.”
Junior Cyrus Largie (Miramar, Fla./Mater Lakes Academy) led the Eagles with 20 points while graduate Tavian Dunn-Martin (Huntington, W. Va/Huntington HS/Akron/Duquesne) and senior Caleb Catto (Cape Coral, Fla./Southwest Florida Christian Academy) each chipped in nine points.
Senior Kevin Samuel (Codrington Village, Barbuda/Redemption Christian (Texas)/TCU) showed glimpses of why he was chosen as ASUN Preseason Defensive Player of the Year as he had a game-high four blocks while also collecting eight rebounds and scoring eight points. Sophomore Luis Rolon (Ponce, Puerto Rico/Central Pointe Christian Academy) had a team-high six assists.
The Trojans were led by Chevez Goodwin who matched Largie’s 20 points while adding six rebounds. Boogie Ellis added 18 points and eight rebounds followed by 13 points from Isaiah Mobley. Max Agbonkpolo rounded out the top scorers with 10 points.
The Green and Blue jumped out to an early 12-to-8 lead forcing USC to call a timeout less than eight minutes into the game. A three-pointer by Catto pushed the Eagles’ lead to 15-10, their largest of the night. Southern Cal responded with an 8-to-2 run to re-take the lead before going on a 7-to-0 run a couple of minutes later to take the lead for good after ending the half with a 35-27 lead.
In the second half, the Trojans pushed their lead up to 11 with 15:04 remaining, but the Eagles fought back and got within five at 51-46 with just over 10 minutes left. However, that was as close as FGCU got the rest of the game as USC went on a 12-2 run to take a 63-48 lead, putting the game out of reach.
USC used their size advantage down low to outscore the Eagles, 44-26, in the paint, which included nine second-chance points, compared to just four for FGCU.
Overall, USC shot 49 percent (32-of-65) for the game compared to 37 percent (22-of-60) for the Eagles. FGCU committed 12 turnovers which USC turned into 10 points, while the Trjoans committed just six turnovers on the night.
Following Sunday night’s game against Eckerd, FGCU will have a quick turnaround as Rhode Island visits on Tuesday evening next week as well. Tickets are on sale now for all games and can be purchased by calling 866-FGCU-TIX, logging on to www.FGCUTickets.com, or visiting the Alico Arena Ticket Office during business hours.
NOTES: Tuesday’s crowd was the largest since a school-record 4,711 fans packed Alico Arena to see FGCU defeat North Florida for the 2017 ASUN Championship title.
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Michael Fly was introduced as the fourth FGCU men’s basketball head coach on April 5, 2018. He had spent the previous seven years as an assistant coach on the Eagles’ staff. In his time with the Eagles, he helped FGCU to a 190-136 record (.583 winning percentage), including six ASUN Tournament Final appearances, three NCAA Tournament victories, three ASUN Tournament titles and three ASUN Regular Season Championships, two berths in the NIT, a CIT appearance and a run to the Sweet 16. He has coached 13 all-conference selections while with the Green and Blue, including two ASUN Player of the Year honors in Sherwood Brown and Brandon Goodwin, two ASUN Defensive Player of the Year selections in Bernard Thompson and Demetris Morant and one ASUN Newcomer of the Year in Schadrac Casimir. Of the top-10 players in career points at FGCU, Fly has helped develop eight of them, including all-time leading scorer Thompson (1,835). Additionally, the Kentucky alumnus has coached both the ASUN all-time assists leader Brett Comer (845; 24th in NCAA history) and FGCU all-time leading rebounder Chase Fieler (714).
FGCU Athletics sponsors events in November and April to benefit the FGCU Campus Food Pantry (www.fgcu.edu/foodpantry) and the Harry Chapin Food Bank (www.harrychapinfoodbank.org), FGCU Athletics’ charities of choice. For more information, including how to make a contribution, please visit www.fgcu.edu/foodpantry and utilize the hashtag #FeedFGCU to help raise awareness.
FGCU teams have combined to win an incredible 85 conference regular season and tournament titles in just 13+ seasons at the Division I level. Additionally, in just nine seasons of D-I postseason eligibility, the Eagles have had a combined 42 teams or individuals compete in NCAA championships. Eight FGCU programs have earned a top-25 national ranking in their respective sport – including women’s basketball (No. 21, 2020-21), beach volleyball (No. 20, 2021) and both men’s soccer (2018, 2019) and women’s soccer (2018) as three of the most recent. In 2016-17, the Green and Blue posted a department-best sixth-place finish in the DI-AAA Learfield Directors’ Cup and top-100 showing nationally, ahead of several Power-5 and FBS institutions. In 2018-19, the Eagles had an ASUN and state of Florida best seven teams earn the NCAA’s Public Recognition Award for their Academic Progress Rate in their sport. FGCU also collectively earned a record 3.50 GPA in the classroom in the fall 2020 semester and has outperformed the general University undergraduate population for 23 consecutive semesters. The 2019 Fall, 2020 Spring, and 2020 Fall semesters each saw another milestone reached as all 15 programs achieved a 3.0-or-higher team GPA. The Eagles also served an all-time high 7,200 volunteer hours in 2017 – being recognized as one of two runners-up for the inaugural NACDA Community Service Award presented by the Fiesta Bowl.
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