By Chris Murray
For the Chris Murray Report
PHILADELPHIA—If you’ve been wondering who the heck is Florida Gulf Coast, the Georgetown Hoyas can tell you a whole lot about them as they make their way back down I-95 toward the Capital Beltway.
“If you don’t know us by now, I don’t know what’s wrong with y’all,” said Florida Gulf sophomore guard Bernard Thompson, who scored 23 points.
In what is by far the biggest upset of the 2013 NCAA Tournament, No. 15 Florida Gulf Coast using an uptempo brand of offense eliminated the No. 2 seeded Georgetown Hoyas with a thrilling 78-68 win in front of a crowd at the Wells Fargo Center who haven’t cheered quite as loud for a team bearing the name “Eagles” in quite some time.
For the school, whose address is Fort Myers, Fla., but actually borders Naples, it was the biggest win in the history of the Florida Gulf Coast University basketball program.
“This is the NCAA Tournament (second) round game we’re the 15 seed, nobody picked us a win, it meant a lot,” said sophomore point guard Brett Comer.
With the score tied at 31-31 with 17:27 left in the second half, Florida Gulf Coast turned the game up a notch and went a 21-2 scoring spurt that gave them a 19-point lead. The Eagles proved to be too quick for what turned out to be a slower Georgetown squad.
“They got out in transition and that started their run,” said Hoyas sophomore forward Otto Porter, who finished the game with 13 points and 11 rebounds. “They started knocking shots. It’s hard when a team is knocking down shots like that.”
Florida Gulf Coast charged out front by taking advantage of missed shots and scoring on the fast-break. Comer got his teammates involved in a lightning fast offensive attack that included a crowd-pleasing oop to junior forward Chase Fieler.
“I saw Otto Porter trailing me, I knew he was going to try and contest my shot, I saw Fieler out the corner of my eye,” said Comer, who finished the game with 12 points and 10 assists.
After the Eagles took a two-point lead into the locker room, head coach Andy Enfield told his team to push up the tempo and play their style of basketball.
“Throw some ally-oops, kick the ball out to the three and whether it makes or misses, we wanted to push the ball in transition and play our style in the second half,” Enfield said. “And I think our guys did a tremendous job early on and we went on a run.”
With a 19-point lead with 12:30, the Eagles had to withstand several Georgetown runs. The Hoyas actually cut the Florida Gulf Coast margin to four with 53 seconds left, but would come no closer. The Eagles hit their free throws to put the game away.
“We showed a lot of maturity in the fact that we were able to then go on a second run and extend our lead. I thought that was the key to the game,” Enfield said.
Meanwhile, Georgetown just could not find a rhythm on offense. They only scored one basket in the last 10 minutes of the first half. When Florida Gulf Coast went on their scoring spurt, the Hoyas kept rushing their shots and taking ill-advised threes.
“In looking back in succession we did take too many threes, too many long shots instead of going to the basket,” said Georgetown head coach John Thompson III. “I think we became discombobulated at the defensive end more than the offensive end to tell the truth.”
For the Florida Gulf Coast University basketball program their visit to Philadelphia and their win over Georgetown has definitely put them on the map.
“It’s definitely a coming out party,” Fieler said. “A lot of people didn’t know about us before we got here. The entire stadium was on our side and we got a lot of fans. It was a coming out party for our team and our program. A lot of people thought we were a junior college, so it good that we won a game like this, but we can’t be satisfied.”
Speaking of NCAA Tournament coming out parties and historical footnotes, it was an upstart Georgetown program, under then head coach John Thompson II, that had its own coming out party in Philadelphia back in 1980 when the Hoyas beat a favored No.2 seeded Maryland squad in the semifinals of the East Regionals played at the old Spectrum about 100 yards away from the Wells Fargo Center.