Canto’s career-night leads FGCU past Kennesaw State, 70-58

Courtesy of FGCUAthletics.com

KENNESAW, Ga. – Thanks to a blistering second half shooting performance and a career-high 26 points by sophomore Caleb Catto (Cape Coral, Fla.), the FGCU men’s basketball team (8-19, 5-7 ASUN) picked up a 70-58 road win at Kennesaw State (1-23, 0-11 ASUN) on Thursday night at the KSU Convocation Center.

Catto’s 26 points marked his fourth 20-point game of the season. Fellow sophomore Zach Scott (Miami, Fla.) added 15 points and six rebounds, while junior Justus Rainwater (Enumclaw, Wash.) nearly had a double-double with 9 points and 12 rebounds.

“During the week, we talked a lot about how Kennesaw was really hungry for a win. We also talked about ourselves having that same mentality and playing desperate to win – I did not think we came out like that in the first half so it was really good to see the response in the second half,” said head coach Michael Fly. “The guys did a great job of executing that last second play in the first half and that gave us some momentum going into the second.”

KSU was led by 22 points from Bryson Lockley who also had seven rebounds. Jamie Lewis added nine points as the Owls second-leading scorer.

Catto got the Eagles going in the second half scoring FGCU’s first 12 points out of the break. Midway through the second stanza, behind a 14-to-4 run for the Eagles, FGCU built out a 52-43 lead at the 9:34 mark.

That proved enough of a pad thanks in part to a dominate 26-to-6 advantage on the glass.

“I thought being able to control the boards was huge for us – both Brian (Thomas) and Justus really gave us a physical presence tonight,” said Fly. “When they play like that, we’re hard to beat because of how they protect the rim and rebound on the defensive side. That allows us to push the ball in transition which is what we saw in the second half.”

The Eagles finished the second half outscoring the Owls 44-31 behind Catto’s 22 points. Overall, FGCU hit 17-of-29 from the floor including a blistering 7-of-10 from beyond the arc. Scott added seven points in the second stanza, while junior Sam Gagliardi (Gig Harbor, Wash.) hit a pair of timely triples during the Eagles 14-to-4 run which broke open the game.

At the intermission, the Eagles trailed 27-26 thanks in part to a buzzer-beater by Scott. With 1.5 seconds to go, senior Tracy Hector (Riverdale, Ga.) threw a Hail Mary pass to junior Brian Thomas (Kennesaw, Ga.) at the FGCU three-point line. Thomas dropped a quick pass to Scott who drilled a three-pointer just as time expired pulling the Eagles within one.

The Eagles hit three of their first four field goals, but then went 1-of-9 from the floor allowing KSU to string together a 12-to-2 run. After back-to-back three-pointers for the Owls in that run, KSU led 18-11 at the 8:21 mark.

FGCU chipped away at the lead thanks to five quick points from Scott including a driving lay-up with 2:30 to go that tied the game 23-23.

Overall, the Eagles finished the night hitting 28-of-56 (50 percent) from the floor including 9-of-19 from deep. KSU hit 22-of-50 shots (44 percent) but were just 5-of-16 from beyond the arc.

For complete coverage of FGCU men’s basketball, follow the Eagles on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook at @FGCU_MBB and online at www.FGCUAthletics.com. You can also sign-up to have news on FGCU men’s basketball and other programs delivered directly to your inbox by visiting www.fgcuathletics.com/email.

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