Monday, March 06, 2017

Florida Gulf Coast: 2016-17 Atlantic Sun Men's Basketball Champions



FORT MYERS, Fla. -- The "Dunk City" moniker is on their shirts, on the doors to their arena, on every press release they send out about men's basketball at Florida Gulf Coast.

And yes, those highlight-reel dunks are still happening.

But defense -- not dunks -- got FGCU back into the NCAA Tournament.

Brandon Goodwin scored 19 points and FGCU dominated the second half to earn its third NCAA berth in the last five seasons with a 77-61 win over North Florida in the Atlantic Sun Conference championship game on Sunday. The Eagles trailed by six at the half, then outscored the Ospreys 44-22 and held them to 19 percent shooting in the final 20 minutes.

"We sort of figured it out at halftime," FGCU coach Joe Dooley said.

Demetris Morant and Marc-Eddy Norelia each scored 14 for the Eagles (26-7). Zach Johnson and Christian Terrell added 10 apiece for FGCU, which tied the program's Division I-era record for victories in a season.

"I definitely feel like we can compete with anyone in the country," Goodwin said. "We know what we're capable of and if we do all that coach asks of us, we can definitely win."

The school best known for its "Dunk City" run to the Sweet Sixteen in 2013 also went to the NCAAs last season, winning a First Four game before falling to eventual national finalist North Carolina. And when the bracket comes out next Sunday, someone is going to surely be reminded that the NCAA stage tends to bring out FGCU's best.

"They're going to be a tough out for anybody who has to play them," North Florida coach Matthew Driscoll said. "That's for sure."

Dallas Moore, the leading active scorer in Division I, had 19 points for North Florida (15-19). Wajid Aminu scored 11 and Garrett Sams added 10 for the Ospreys.

Goodwin started the second half with a three-point play and it didn't take long for the Eagles to grab control. His free throws with 16:36 left put FGCU on top for good, and started what became a 17-7 run that set the tone for what became a championship celebration.

"They completely dominated us in the second half," Driscoll said. "They dominated every phase. ... We got some good looks, but they were better."

BIG PICTURE

North Florida: The Ospreys were bidding to be the 26th team to get into the NCAA Tournament with a losing record. ... UNF fell to 4-13 on the road. ... The Ospreys made five of their last seven shots of the first half -- before shooting 5 for 27 in the entire second half.


Florida Gulf Coast: Morant's first dunk of the game was FGCU's 149th of the season -- one more than the original team with the "Dunk City" label had in 2012-13. The Eagles finished with nine on Sunday. ... FGCU is 12-1 in its last 13 games. ... Goodwin (now with 601) broke the FGCU single-season scoring record, established last year when Norelia scored 597 points.

ONE-SIDED

The rivalry between the schools has very distinct ebbs and flows. FGCU won the first six meetings, UNF won the next seven, FGCU then won five straight, UNF took the next three -- and now, each of the last five have been won by FGCU.

MOORE'S NUMBERS

Moore started all 135 games of his career at North Florida. He entered Sunday as the nation's No. 4 scorer this season at 24.0 points per game, and increased his career total to 2,437. "He barely even missed a practice," Driscoll said.

UP NEXT

Florida Gulf Coast awaits its NCAA Tournament matchup, to be announced March 12.

Wichita State: 2016-17 Missouri Valley Men's Basketball Champions



ST. LOUIS -- No. 21 Wichita State left no doubt as to whom the top team in the Missouri Valley Conference was.

Conner Frankamp scored a career-high 19 points and Markis McDuffie added 16 as No. 21 Wichita State beat Illinois State 71-51 in the MVC Tournament championship game Sunday, earning an automatic NCAA Tournament berth.

"I thought we played very well against a very good team," Wichita State coach Gregg Marshall said. "I thought it was a very thorough performance. We defended well. We made our free throws. We got the ball inside. We rebounded well. We shot it well. So that results in a 20-point win and that's hard to do against that team."

The teams had split their regular-season series and shared the conference championship, with Illinois State earning the top seed over Wichita State based on RPI.

The Shockers (30-4) have won 15 straight games since losing at Illinois State on Jan. 14. The Redbirds (27-6) had won eight straight games since losing at Wichita State on Feb. 4.

"Our loss at Illinois State really woke us up," said Frankamp, who was named the tournament's most outstanding player after scoring 37 points in the final two games. "We got right back to work after that and changed a few things and it's really helped us. We'll continue to work and hopefully make a run in the tournament."

Landry Shamet added 14 points for Wichita State. Paris Lee, the MVC's player of the year, led Illinois State with 18 points on 7-of-21 shooting, while MiKyle McIntosh scored 16.

Illinois State shot a season-low 29.3 percent from the field (17 of 58).

"We picked a bad day to have a bad day, especially shooting the ball," Illinois State coach Dan Muller said. "Certainly part of it was their defense, but part of it was us. . We just got beat by a good team today. They played better than us."

After sluggish starts the past two games, Wichita State opened this one with a 10-2 run that included 3-pointers from Frankamp and Shamet.

The Shockers, who got 13 points from Frankamp in the opening half, never trailed in the first 20 minutes, led by as many as 11 points and held a 33-25 advantage at halftime.

Wichita State pulled away in the second half, led by McDuffie and Shamet. The Shockers led by as many 23 points after halftime and sealed the victory at the free-throw line, sinking 21 of 31 attempts in the second half.

BIG PICTURE

With the win, Wichita State reached the 30-win mark for the fourth time in five seasons and solidified its standing as one of the top 25 teams in the nation heading into the NCAA Tournament.

Illinois State has lost five straight tournament championship games and fell to 4-8 in title games. The Redbirds' last MVC Tournament championship was in 1998.


POLL IMPLICATIONS

Wichita State's dominant three wins in the MVC Tournament -- by 26, 15 and 20 points -- could move the Shockers up a few spots in the next poll.

FRESHMAN WATCH

Shamet, the lone freshman in Wichita State's starting lineup, admitted to having some nerves at the start of the MVC Tournament. But after scoring 12 points in the first two games combined, he had 14 points including three 3-pointers against Illinois State. The performance helped land Shamet on the all-tournament team.

UP NEXT

Wichita State has secured a spot in the NCAA Tournament for the sixth consecutive season.

Illinois State will have to wait to see if it receives an invitation to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 1998.

Winthrop: 2016-17 Big South Men's Basketball Champions



ROCK HILL, S.C. -- Winthrop earned its first NCAA Tournament berth since 2010, beating Campbell 76-59 Sunday in the Big South Conference Tournament championship game behind Keon Johnson's 26 points.

The top-seeded Eagles (26-6) scored on the first possession of the game and never trailed. Winthrop won on its home court and snapped its streak of three straight losses in the conference title final.

Winthrop went to the NCAA Tournament in nine seasons from 1999-2010. The Eagles' lone win came in 2007 against Notre Dame.

After two straight 31-point games, the 5-foot-7 Johnson won the MVP award for the tournament. The senior opened the second half with back-to-back 3s, and scored 15 of Winthrop's first 19 points in the second half.

Xavier Cooks had 17 points and 14 rebounds for Winthrop and Rod Perkins scored all 15 of his points in the first half.

Chris Clemons, who scored 51 points Thursday for Campbell (17-17) in a quarterfinal win over second-seeded UNC Asheville and got 33 in the semifinals against Radford, had 29. The 5-foot-9 sophomore scored 16 straight points for the seventh-seeded Camels in the second half.

Campbell's only appearance in the NCAA Tournament came in 1992, when it lost to eventual champion Duke.

The Eagles took a quick 12-2 lead as Campbell missed seven of its first eight shots. The Camels rallied to tie it at 21, but Winthrop responded with a 9-0 run.

Once Johnson hit his first 3 of the second half, the Eagles led by double digits the rest of the way.

Winthrop lost to Coastal Carolina in the 2014 and 2015 finals and UNC Asheville last season.

BIG PICTURE

Winthrop: This is the Eagles' first NCAA appearance under fifth-year coach Pat Kelsey. ... The Eagles are now 6-0 in Big South finals as the top seed.

UP NEXT

Winthrop awaits seeding for the NCAA Tournament. The 68-team bracket will be revealed Sunday, March 12.