Florida Gulf Coast battled through foul trouble and a slow start but came up just short in the first round of the NIT against Florida State. The Eagles fell 58-53, ending their 2013-14 campaign.
The contest proved to be a defensive battle, as both teams started with surprising tenacity. While Bernard Thompson and Chase Fieler sat on the bench for FGCU, Okaro White gave the Seminoles a late first half boost to give FSU a five point edge at the break. The Eagles couldn't find a way to score. Some three pointers from Croatian sensation Filip Cvjeticanin were the only thing keeping FGCU close.
With the return of Thompson after halftime, the Eagles went on a scoring spurt and took a 34-28 lead six minutes into half. The junior guard finished the day with 16 points. But soon the Eagles front court encountered trouble: Chase Fieler and Eric McKnight both picked up their fourth fouls and Nate Hicks sat with a knee injury suffered earlier.
Although the Eagles' five on the court became considerably smaller than FSU, a complete lack of box outs allowed the 'Noles to take some offensive boards, and the lead. Down four with 25 seconds left, Brett Comer walked the ball up and the Florida State knocked it out and a scrum of exchanging possessions ensued.
In Joe Dooley's first season at the helm, the Eagles finish 22-13 (14-4) and are only losing senior Chase Fieler. They bring in a recruiting class of Christian Terrell (Providence, Jacksonville), Zach Johnson (Norland, Miami), and Eric Moeller (College of Central Florida).