Florida Gulf Coast's improbable tournament run has ended after the team lost to the Florida Gators by a score of 62-50.
The Eagles started out hot. They went up 24-14 on the Gators to start the game. Florida promptly scored six unanswered points to take a 30-24 lead. The Gators' defensive strength was apparent during that run. Florida Gulf Coast went over six minutes without scoring a field goal.
The first half ended with UF on top, 30-26.
Florida's strong play continued into the second half. The Gators were a bit like a snake. Once they got the Eagles in their grip, they slowly smothered and constricted them. Florida took its foot off the gas as FGCU pulled to within seven points with 2:46 left. It just wasn't enough in the end.
Defense was the biggest key for Florida, especially considering how poorly it shot from the field. The Gators as a team only went 22-of-57, including 4-of-15 from three-point range.
Another major factor was the turnover battle. Florida was very careful with the ball, especially when compared to the Eagles. Florida Gulf Coast turned it over 20 times, with the Gators only giving it back on 10 occasions.
It's hard to pick out a star player for Florida because it was really a total team performance.
Kenny Boynton has often done more harm than good because of his poor shot selection. On Friday night, he reined in his offense a bit, only scoring seven points on 2-of-6 shooting. He saved much of his effort on the defensive end of the floor. Boynton was a constant nuisance for Eagles shooters and ball-handlers.
Mike Rosario was the team's leading scorer with 15 points. Casey Prather came off the bench to add 11 key points. Although Scottie Wilbekin didn't have a great shooting night, he did manage to make seven of eight free throws en route to scoring 13 points.
It was far from an embarrassing performance from the Eagles, but they were simply second-best on the night.
Sherwood Brown went for 14 points and did what he could. The supporting cast for Florida Gulf Coast just didn't have enough. Chase Fieler was the only other Eagles starter who scored in double figures, getting 12 on the night.
Brett Comer in particular had a forgettable night. No one succumbed more to the Gators defensive pressure like he did, committing nine turnovers. He also only shot 1-of-5 from the field for four points.
While fans will be disappointed to see Cinderella finally run out of magic, there were plenty of alley-oops and spectacular dunks from the Eagles. Nothing less would have been expected from Dunk City. In the end, they were undone by a better basketball team.
The Gators will meet the Michigan Wolverines in the Elite Eight on Sunday afternoon.
ESPN's Darren Rovell illustrates the salary differences between Andy Enfield and Billy Donovan. Donovan makes almost twice as much money on sponsorship alone:
FGCU Coach Andy Enfield has made $172K total this season. Florida coach Billy Donovan makes $340K a year off his Nike deal.— darren rovell (@darrenrovell) March 30, 2013
ESPN Stats and Info recounted what was essentially the turning point in the game:
Florida is on a 21-2 run since it trailed 24-14— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) March 30, 2013
Faux John Madden brings up a very good point about how the night unfolded:
Duke wins and Florida Gulf Coast loses.. what a sad night for America.— Faux John Madden (@FauxJohnMadden) March 30, 2013
The irony of the clock literally going past midnight was not lost on Not Bill Walton:
In Dallas, FGCU is trying to hold on for dear life against Florida. Ironically, the actual clock is very close to striking midnight there.— Not Bill Walton (@NotBillWalton) March 30, 2013
There couldn't be a more perfect tweet, as Bleacher Report pointed out that FGCU's physical embodiment of Cinderella looks on with a concerned face:
The FGCU Cinderella looks worried twitter.com/BleacherReport…— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) March 30, 2013
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