DUNK CITY, Fla. – The FGCU men’s basketball team (11-5) posted a program-record 11th regular-season non-conference win Saturday afternoon at Alico Arena, rolling over Florida Tech (9-5), 101-49, and entering 2017 and ASUN Conference action on a four-game winning streak.
Demetris Morant (Miami, Fla./UNLV/Bishop Gorman HS) posted a career-high 20 points to lead FGCU’s lethal and efficient offensive attack. The Eagles entered the game ranked 4th in the nation in field goal percentage at 51.9, and increased that as they connected at a 55.6-percent clip (40-72) against the Panthers.
Dunk City lived up to its moniker with 11 slams, but also continued to add to its Depth City nickname as the Eagles had a 10th different player this year reach double-figure points in a game with freshman Christian Carlyle (Jacksonville, Fla./Bishop Kenny HS) tallying a career-high 19 points.
Joining Morant and Carlyle in double-figure scoring were Brandon Goodwin (Norcross, Ga./UCF/Norcross HS) with 13 points, Antravious Simmons (Miami, Fla./VCU/South Miami HS) with 12 and Zach Johnson (Miami, Fla./Norland HS) with 10.
Florida Tech – an NCAA Division-II member of the Sunshine State Conference – actually raced out to a 10-0 lead to start the game, but FGCU quickly changed that and used a 20-5 run to take a five-point edge at the 11:25 mark on a Christian Terrell (Jacksonville, Fla./Providence HS) layup. The Eagles then limited the Panthers to just three points over the final 7:30 of the half and finished the opening 20 minutes on a 26-3 run to take a 53-25 lead into the break.
FGCU opened the 2nd half flying all over the floor as its first four buckets of the stanza came off dunks, and the Green and Blue cruised from there. The Eagles posted a 50-point half for the 6th time this year and eclipsed the 100-point plateau for the 3rd time.
“After a pretty sluggish start, I though Brandon really set the tone by pressuring the ball,” commented FGCU head coach Joe Dooley, whose team turned FIT over 28 times which led to 41 points. “We were able to get some turnovers and easy baskets because of the pressure. It was also good to see a lot of other guys get some quality minutes, and they played well.”
FGCU finished with a 41-25 rebounding edge and passed out 30 assists – tied for the most in the program’s D-I era. The Eagles also committed a season-low nine turnovers.
In addition to his team-leading point total, Morant secured a game-high-tying nine rebounds and is now averaging a double-double over the past six games with 13.5 points and 10. 5 rebounds. Carlyle also finished with a well-rounded game as he added six rebounds and six assists against no turnovers. Goodwin passed out six assists and also tied a career high with four steals.
FGCU was without redshirt senior Marc-Eddy Norelia (Orlando, Fla./Tulane/Olympia HS) for the fifth-straight game due to personal reasons. Norelia, who practiced with the team for the first time in more than two weeks on Thursday and Friday, was on the bench, however, after not being with the team the previous four games.
Sam Daniel led Florida Tech with 20 points, but he was the lone double-figure scorer for the Panthers. FGCU limited FIT to just 36.2 percent (17-47) from the floor, including a 29.6-percent clip (8-27) from 3-point range. The Eagles entered the contest ranked 6th in the country in 3-point percentage defense at 28 percent.
The win was the fourth in a row for FGCU. Earlier this season, the Eagles put together a six-game winning streak, marking the first time FGCU has had two separate winning streaks of four games or more in D-I non-conference program history.
FGCU is now a dominant 67-12 (.848) at Alico Arena since 2012-13, including an 8-1 mark this year.
FGCU begin defense of its ASUN Championship when league play tips off next Saturday, Jan. 7, at 4 p.m. The Eagles will head to DeLand for a rematch of last year’s ASUN Tournament Final against Stetson. The Hatters are 6-9 on the year and face Ave Maria on Monday to conclude their non-conference schedule.