Dec. 1, 2008
FT. MYERS, FL - Florida Gulf Coast closed the game on a 12-2 run to beat Florida Atlantic 60-55 Monday night.
The Eagles (2-4) received a career-high 27 points from junior Derrick O'Neil. FGCU was completing a five-game home stand at the Alico Arena in Ft. Myers.
Florida Atlantic (3-5) held the lead until the final 2 1/2 minutes. The Owls have lost four-straight after starting 3-1 for the first time in its 15-year Division I history. Freshman Alex Tucker scored a season-high 10 points for FAU. Brett Royster added nine and 10 rebounds.
Tied at 53 with 2:33 left, FGCU took its first lead of the second half on a made free throw and Reed Baker dropped in a point-blank jump shot moments later to put the Eagles up 56-53 with 1:35 on the clock. The FGCU lead was three with 36 seconds left when Baker made the second of two free throws to make it 57-53.
FAU had a five-point lead on two different occasions in the second half. Paul Graham III swished in a 3-pointer to put the Owls up 51-46 at the 6:28 mark. Earlier in the half Xavier Perkins scored seven-straight FAU points to make the lead 40-35.
However things remained close and after Perkins fouled out with 4:32 remaining O'Neil capitalized by making both ends of the one-and-one to pull FGCU to within one, 53-52.
A native of Moreno Valley, California, O'Neil shot 7-of10 from the field and made 12 free throws. No other FGCU player reached double figures in scoring.
The Owls used a balanced scoring attack to overcome an early 16-8 deficit and lead 30-28 at the intermission and held the lead until the waning moments.