North Florida (9-15, 4-3) closes its two-game road trip south with a Monday night matchup at the Alico Arena in Fort Myers. Florida Gulf Coast (17-6, 6-1) played great basketball late and finished with an 86-82 final over the Ospreys last Wednesday. FGCU was able to get five points from guard Brandon Goodwin in the final 34 seconds. After a 7-0 run, UNF led 74-71 with 4:45 to play. As Wednesday was a battle for first place in the conference, the Eagles were successful and made big shots when it mattered most.
FGCU has shown they are the best of the ASUN. But how far away is UNF from being in that top tier? Game coverage begins Monday night on ESPN3 at 7 p.m., and you can listen to the action on 1010XL.
After Wednesday’s win, FGCU leads the series 14-10. They have taken the last three over UNF. The senior class – Aaron Bodager, Dallas Moore and Chris Davenport – would love a repeat of two years ago (Feb. 2015) when the Ospreys notched a huge 14-point win at Alico.
UNF’s Chris Davenport – who had 26 points and 12 rebounds at Stetson – has been putting up starter-like numbers. He has been the second-best scoring option behind Dallas Moore. Davenport needs to energize his teammates and play like the preseason conference first-teamer that the leagues coaches voted him to be.
Florida Gulf Coast is Brandon Goodwin’s team. He has led them to at least two of FGCU’s ASUN wins. Demetris Morant will score, rebound and block plenty of shots. But Goodwin is the Eagle that gets major buckets at key points in a game.
North Florida will have Dallas Moore (#14), Aaron Bodager (12), Garrett Sams (11), Wajid Aminu (2) and Romelo Banks (33).
The Eagles have found their best lineup to start the game, with four guards and one big man. FGCU has three players that can handle the ball well: Brandon Goodwin (#0), who should be the ASUN Newcomer of the Year, Zach Johnson (5) and Rayjon Tucker (3). Christian Terrell (11) and Demetris Morant (21) are the other two starters.
The Eagles have won three in a row, including Wednesday’s victory at UNF. FGCU gained plenty of confidence after strangling the Dolphins on Saturday, 78-56 at Alico Arena. A huge reason is FGCU’s leading the nation for points in the paint. If they make the NCAA Tournament, they have the pieces for another good run. The Eagles have been in their last 12 games. However, in a deep, ultra-competitive conference, it comes down to the three ASUN tournament games and home-court seeding.
The Ospreys need to lock down on defense in the second half. The past four games it’s like opponents are right around 50 points in the latter 20 minutes. Jacksonville University wasn’t able to match FGCU in the paint. At one point, the Eagles led that category 46-12. Throw in how the Eagles had a season-high 12 dunks versus the Dolphins.
How UNF Can Win:
Playing a full 40-minute game is essential. One route to get there is by being mentally tough. Whether the Ospreys are up by nine or down by four, they have to be confident in battling in Alico Arena where UNF is 1-3 since Jan. 2013.