Gators knock off ETSU in NCAA tournament opener
- Author: Loretta Pittman Mar 18, 2017,
Mar 18, 2017, 0:57
Though it looked like head coach Mike White might have the Gators attack the basket more in the latter 20 minutes after going 1-for-10 from deep in the first half, UF found its rhythm and made the shots count, which sometimes is all you can ask.
FSU outscored the Eagles in the paint 44-36 and outrebounded them 46-26. The second bounced out and Dwayne Bacon, the FSU sophomore who terrorized the Eagles all night, scored the last of his 25 points at the free throw line, ending the comeback threat. Bacon made four of those six shots, including a dunk and back-to-back layups to close out the run. "He's skilled. He's athletic".
Zach Leday scored 17 of his 23 points in the second half to pace the Hokies (22-11), making their first NCAA visit since 2007.
"They're a great team", Bacon said of the Musketeers. "I do like the pieces we have coming back".
All of those higher seeds stumbled down the stretch and have enough flaws that professional and amateur bracketologists across the country have them on upset alert. Thomas averaged almost 15 points per game while shooting better than 50 percent from the field this season.
The sophomore was 8 of 10 from the field in the first half and had 16 points at the break. "I think we played okay to finish, but the last 30 seconds of that first half we made too many mistakes that led to their offense and we were down four", said junior forward Kevin Mickle, a lot of them at Morant's expense.
Momentum is certainly on the Eagles' side.
Complementing their strong play on defense, the Seminoles opened up the half shooting 12-18 from the field en route to a 28-19 lead.
Redshirt junior guard Brandon Goodwin had a game-high 28 points on 12-for-27 shooting for Florida Gulf Coast (26-8), which advanced to the Big Dance for the second straight year after winning the Atlantic Sun Conference tournament title last week. The Eagles never really threatened from that point on. But make no mistake, Forbes knew exactly how to get his players motivated for the game. Barry dropped a pass on what would have been a wide-open layup in the first half and missed a short runner in the lane in the second half. Everybody went in the game.
Despite having the game within five twice in the final minute of the game, the Eagles were unable to force turnovers and knock down shots, falling to the third-seeded Seminoles.
Florida State's women's basketball team will look to duplicate what the men did on Thursday night and advance past the first round of the NCAA Tournament.
"Michael Gilmore, Ricky Doyle, both are great guys that can replace Meech and Marc", Goodwin said.