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ASUN Roundup: FGCU remains undefeated, NJIT shocks Lipscomb, and Stetson can’t catch a break

Every team in the ASUN was involved in a game that came down to the wire this past week.

Tessa Mortensen

One of the things that has characterized ASUN basketball in the past few seasons has been the lack of one team dominating the conference. That’s not the case this season.

FGCU has been dominant. The Eagles are 9-0 in conference play, and have a three-game lead on second place Jacksonville, and a four-game lead on Lipscomb, NJIT, and North Florida, which are all tied for third.

However, there are plenty of other meaningful games going on around the conference outside of the ones FGCU is playing in.

Let’s get into this week’s power rankings:

8. USC Upstate Spartans (6-20, 1-8)

The Spartans are in the midst of one of their worst seasons in recent memory. However, they had their best performance of the season when they played Lipscomb this past week. Malik Moore and Deion Holmes each had double-doubles and combined for 65 points.

It still wasn’t enough, as the Spartans lost in double overtime. It seemed that the close loss took a mental toll on the Upstate players because they got destroyed by Kennesaw State on Saturday night in their fifth-straight loss. To say the Upstate’s final season in the ASUN has been a disappointment is an understatement.

7. Stetson Hatters (10-16, 2-7)

Stetson surprisingly started out conference play by winning two of its first three games. Since then, Stetson has gone on a lengthy losing streak. The Hatters have lost seven games in a row, but their last four contests were all decided in the final minutes.

In their most recent game on Saturday night, the Hatters kept it close again but lost by six points in a tight game against UNF. Against JU, they lost after fouling JD Notae with 0.5 seconds left. Stetson has been competitive in nearly every game they’ve played this season, but as has been the case in recent years, they can’t find a way to win the close ones.

6. Kennesaw State Owls (7-17, 3-6)

Kennesaw State seems like it’s finally putting it together. The Owls last three games included two wins and a three-point loss on the road at NJIT. Saturday’s 24-point win featured another standout performance from James Scott. The sophomore ended up with 30 points, including five made three pointers. The game before, Scott had another strong offensive outing with 22 points. The game that got them going on this short run was a road win against USC Upstate where Anthony Wilson was the hero.

5. North Florida Ospreys (11-15, 5-4)

The Ospreys’ last four games have been against Stetson and FGCU, and UNF showed that it’s right in the middle of the two. Their record may be bad, but the Ospreys are a better team than Stetson. They took care of the Hatters twice in eight days. Conversely, the Ospreys showed they are not yet on par with FGCU. They lost handily to the Eagles twice. However, they’re currently in a three-way tie for third place in the conference, so their next couple of games will have big postseason implications.

4. NJIT Highlanders (12-12, 5-4)

The Highlanders stunned Lipscomb on Saturday. They were down 77-67 with just over three minutes remaining in the game. After a furious comeback fueled by phenomenal defense and a couple of timely three pointers by Anthony Tarke, the Highlanders emerge with their third win in four games. However, they are still ranked behind Lipscomb in this week’s power rankings because the Bison lost this game more than NJIT won it. All things being equal, Lipscomb are still the better team. However, NJIT has a home game against FGCU where they could prove me wrong.

Here’s Tarke’s cold-blooded three to give NJIT the late lead:

3. Lipscomb Bisons (15-9, 5-4)

The Bisons have been in their fair share of wild finishes in the past week. Against USC Upstate, they were trailing almost all game, but found a way to win in double overtime. Against NJIT, they fell apart late, thanks in a large part because Garrison Mathews fouled out. ’m still putting Lipscomb in the third spot because they are one of the only teams that has proven they can compete with FGCU, but they need to play much better basketball against some of the lesser opponents before they worry about FGCU.

2. Jacksonville Dolphins (12-14, 6-3)

The Dolphins have been the surprise team of the season. Future ASUN Freshman of the year JD Notae took the Dolphins into Fort Myers and almost pulled off the upset of the season... almost. The Dolphins led 62-60 with three minutes left before falling flat in the final minutes and eventually losing 68-62. After beating Stetson, JU got its second crack at the Eagles in less than a week. In front of one of the bigger crowds at Swisher Gymnasium all year, the Dolphins had a horrible performance and lost by 35. Tony Jasick’s bunch needs to finish off the regular season strong if they want another shot at FGCU in March.

1. Florida Gulf Coast Eagles (18-8, 9-0)

I’ll say it again: FGCU has separated itself from the competition. They are three games up on the closest team to them, and the biggest storyline surrounding the Eagles right now is whether or not they will finish with a perfect conference record. They’ve absolutely dominated conference play, but remember their non- conference mistakes? It’s hard to believe that the team that just beat Jacksonville by 35 at one point lost to Oral Roberts by 19. But as long as the non-conference losses stay a distant memory, FGCU should continue to take charge in the ASUN.

Shot of the Week:

Even though it wasn’t for the win as the play-by-play guy said, Luke Doyle’s bank shot three against Jacksonville was pretty sweet.

Upcoming ASUN Schedule (EST):

Thursday:

7 pm FGCU at NJIT

7 pm North Florida at Kennesaw State

7 pm Stetson at USC Upstate

7:30 pm Jacksonville at Lipscomb

Saturday:

4 pm FGCU at USC Upstate

4 pm Stetson at NJIT

4:30 pm Jacksonville at Kennesaw State

5 pm North Florida at Lipscomb