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NKU men undone by FGCU at home
HIGHLAND HEIGHTS, Ky. (WKRC) -- Chase Fieler scored 22 points to lead Florida Gulf Coast to a 92-72 victory over Northern Kentucky on Saturday afternoon in The Bank of Kentucky Center.
Brett Comer added 15 points, six rebounds and five assists as Florida Gulf Coast (20-11 overall) clinched a share of the Atlantic Sun Conference regular-season title with a 14-4 record. The Eagles shot 60.7 percent from the field in the first half to build a 46-28 lead at the break and remained unbeaten (4-0) all-time against Northern Kentucky.
"When shots weren't falling, that led to some things defensively where we weren't tough enough," Norse head coach Dave Bezold said. "If you're a half-second late on a switch or a screen or blocking out they're going to make you pay for it, and I think that was a big factor of the first half. We were down eight with about three minutes left in the first half, and then they hit us with a big run and we're down 18 at halftime."
Florida Gulf Coast closed the first half with an 11-1 run to turn a 35-27 lead into a 46-28 advantage at the break. Filip Cvjeticanin buried a 3-pointer at the buzzer to give the Eagles the 18-point halftime lead.
Jalen Billups scored 20 points to lead Northern Kentucky, which closed the season with a 9-21 overall record. Tyler White added 18 points for the Norse, who finished with a 5-13 record in the Atlantic Sun Conference.
Northern Kentucky shot 68.2 percent from the field in the second half, but Florida Gulf Coast made 51.6 percent of its attempts after the break and led by as many as 25 points. The bigger Eagles won the rebounding battle by a 39-21 margin.
"I always look at offensive rebounds as a key stat, and they had 15 of them," Bezold said. "They are just bigger, stronger and quicker than we are, and we missed a few block-out assignments as well, and you can't do that against a team like Florida Gulf Coast. Did we play better the second half? We made more shots. I just never felt like defensively we were tough enough throughout possessions."
Jordan Jackson added eight points for the Norse, and Cole Murray scored six points. Bernard Thompson collected a double-double for Florida Gulf Coast with 14 points and 11 rebounds.
In the first meeting on Dec. 30, Florida Gulf Coast rallied for a 60-56 win over Northern Kentucky in Fort Myers, Fla.
Northern Kentucky is now 65-18 all-time in The Bank of Kentucky Center. The Norse finished 7-7 at home this season.
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