The Florida Gulf Coast Eagles took a page out of the Norfolk State playbook from last year. The 15th seed out of the South Region, proving that they weren’t just a flash in the pan newcomer to the NCAA scene, pulled off a shocking upset of the Georgetown Hoyas, 78-68, at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia.
This one was much too close for the Hoyas’ comfort at the half, with the Eagles holding a 24-22 lead going into the break and 29-28 with two minutes played in the 2nd half. But a 24-9 run by the Eagles, from the Atlantic Sun Conference, gave them their largest lead of the game with 10:56 to go.
Still, the Hoyas wouldn’t go away. A Eagles scoring drought, coupled with some timely shooting by the 2nd seed (including back-to-back threes by Jabril Trawick and Otto Porter with 2:51 left, followed by a Markel Starks free throw) made it 64-56. Then, two big 3s by Starks cut it to 72-68 with less than a minute to go.
But following a made free throw by Eddie Murray to make it a 73-68 score, Starks missed a three that would have made it a one possession game, and FGCU would make clinching free throws down the stretch to seal the upset and send a sizable Eagle-backing contingent home happy.
Not bad for a school founded in 1991, with its first classes being held in 1997, and a team playing only their fifth season of Division 1 ball and playing in their first NCAA Tournament.
Sherwood Brown led all scorers with 24 points (6-14 FG, 3-6 from beyond the arc), while Bernard Thompson scored 23. Starks notched 23 points, including 4-10 from three, for Georgetown; Otto Porter was held to just 13 on 5-17 shooting.
The Eagles will face either the (7) San Diego State Aztecs or (10) Oklahoma Sooners on Sunday.