Florida Gulf Coast Keeps Surprising
PHILADELPHIA – Florida Gulf Coast became the first 15 to reach the Sweet 16, and the Eagles not only made it look easy, they made it look fun.
Little-known FGCU beat San Diego State 81-71 on Sunday night, its second NCAA tournament upset of the weekend. Just like in their opening win over second-seeded Georgetown – the Eagles’ calling card to the nation – there were plenty of laughs, dunks and dances.
“We don’t take ourselves too seriously,” said Florida Gulf Coast coach Andy Enfield, whose players tossed him in the air and doused him with water in a raucous celebration before his postgame interviews. “We try to have fun, get serious when we have to.
“Our goal was to make history and we did it.”
With its campus in Fort Myers, Florida Gulf Coast opened its doors to students in 1997. The university only became eligible for postseason play last year. Now the next opponent for the upstart state school will be the system’s flagship university, third-seeded Florida, on Friday night in the South Regional semifinal in Dallas.
“We tried to scrimmage them early in the season in the preseason,” Enfield said. “Now we get our shot.”
Bernard Thompson had 23 points and Sherwood Brown added 17 for FGCU, the Atlantic Sun champion.
In their first-ever NCAA tournament game on Friday, the 15th-seeded Eagles busted brackets everywhere with a win over Georgetown, a game in which they took control with a 21-2 run in the second half.
It went much the same way against seventh-seeded San Diego State.
This time the run was 17-0 and Brown, who was saddled early in the second half with foul trouble, had eight of the first 10 points of it. When it was over the Eagles led 71-52 with 4:19 to play and the only decisions left were how the players and fans were going to celebrate.
Brown stuck out his tongue after every big basket, often in the direction of the hundreds of Eagles fans jammed into one section.
Even when the game was tight, he and his teammates looked they were glad to be on the court. The Eagles waved their arms and played along with a lively crowd that came to see an upset. There were big smiles and high-fives.
In short, they showed a kind of joy that’s often missing from high stakes, high drama games in March.
No. 3 FLORIDA 78
No. 11 MINNESOTA 64
AUSTIN, Texas (AP) – Mike Rosario scored 25 points and Florida used an overpowering first half to roll past Minnesota and into the NCAA tournament round of 16 for third consecutive year.
NORTH CAROLINA 58
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) – Kansas got the best of ‘ol Roy and his Tar Heels once again.
OHIO STATE 78
IOWA STATE 75
DAYTON, Ohio (AP) – Aaron Craft made a last-second, tie-breaking 3 and Ohio State remained the lone high seed left in the NCAA tournament’s most-busted bracket.
Ohio State (28-7) needed Craft’s only 3-pointer of the game – an arching shot over 6-foot-7 defender Georges Niang from the top of the key – to avoid yet another upset in the oh-so-wild West Regional. Four of the top five seeds fell fast and hard in the first weekend.
No. 13 LaSALLE 76
No. 12 OLE MISS 74
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) – Tyrone Garland banked home a scooping layup with 2 seconds left and 13th-seeded La Salle, vaulting the Explorers to their deepest run in the NCAA tournament since they played for the championship in 1955.
DAYTON, Ohio (AP) – On the verge of being the second No. 1 knocked from the NCAA tournament, Indiana finally stopped Temple’s No. 1.
No. 2 MIAMI 63
No. 7 ILLINOIS 59
AUSTIN, Texas (AP) – Shane Larkin hit a go-ahead 3-pointer with a minute left and Miami kept possession on a ball knocked out of bounds that probably should have gone to Illinois, helping the Hurricanes hold on.
No. 2 DUKE 66
No. 7 CREIGHTON 50
PHILADELPHIA (AP) – Rasheed Sulaimon scored 21 points, Seth Curry scored had 17 and No. 2 seed Duke held off seventh-seeded Creighton to advance to the round of 16 for the fourth time in five years.