Entering play on Wednesday night, there was a logjam at the top of the Atlantic Sun standings. But by the end of the night, the three-way tie for first had been cleared. Here are three takeaways from a fun night in the Atlantic Sun:
FGCU is back in charge
After stumbling at home against USC Upstate last week, FGCU retook sole possession of first place with an 86-82 win at North Florida. The Eagles entered the night in a three-way tie for first with both USC Upstate and North Florida. But after the win and a USC Upstate loss, FGCU reasserted itself as the team to beat in the Atlantic Sun.
While both teams faced a good deal of foul trouble, it bit North Florida tremendously when reigning Atlantic Sun player of the year Dallas Moore picked up his fourth early in the second half. Moore still returned and managed to finish the night with a game-high 32 points, but his absence allowed FGCU to hang in the game.
With the game tied in the final minute, FGCU’s Brandon Goodwin stepped up to play the hero. Goodwin knocked in a three to break the 80-80 tie and then quickly scored again off of a steal. In a matter of seconds, he had locked up the game for the Eagles and swung the momentum in the conference.
Lipscomb joins the race
The Lipscomb Bisons erased a 20-point first-half deficit and a 15-point halftime deficit to take down USC Upstate by a final of 84-77.
When he was on the court, Michael Buchanan was dominant in the post for USC Upstate, helping the Spartans open up their early lead. However, Buchanan was limited to just 11 minutes of play due to foul trouble. He, as well as two other Spartans, fouled out in the second half, opening the door for Lipscomb’s comeback.
Lipscomb’s offense came to life in the second half as the Bisons poured on 50 points. Garrison Mathews led the way, scoring 19 of his 22 points in the second half. Mathews sealed the win for Lipscomb with an emphatic dunk in the game’s final minute.
The comeback pulls Lipscomb even with both North Florida and USC Upstate for second place in the conference. After losses to both FGCU and North Florida, the Bisons needed a win over a top-tier opponent in the conference. They got it on Wednesday.
Defense was optional in Jacksonville
Across town from the FGCU-North Florida showdown, the Jacksonville Dolphins hosted the Stetson Hatters. The game may not have come with the impact other matchups offered as far as the conference standings were concerned, but the final score of 103-92 in favor of Jacksonville made it noteworthy.
An offensive shootout should have been expected given these two teams have the worst defensive efficiency ratings during Atlantic Sun play, according to KenPom. Both teams were led by 31-point scorers: Tanner Rubio for Jacksonville and Derick Newton for Stetson. Another Jacksonville Dolphin, J.R. Holder, scored 26.
Given that Dallas Moore scored 32 on the other side of town for North Florida, all four of the Atlantic Sun’s top scorers played in Jacksonville on Wednesday.
FGCU 86 North Florida 82
Lipscomb 84 USC Upstate 77
Jacksonville 103 Stetson 92
Kennesaw State 71 NJIT 65