FGCU Downs Mercer in Epic Finish; Advances to Finals

Friday, March 02, 2012

MACON, Ga. - FGCU defeated second-seeded Mercer Bears, 62-58, to advance to the A-Sun Conference Championship Final in front of a record 3,497 fans on Friday night at the University Center. The Eagles become the third-straight six-seed to reach the General Shale Atlantic Sun Men's Basketball Championship Final joining last year's North Florida squad and the Bears in 2010.

The Eagles outscored Mercer, 8-1, over the final 3:12 of the contest with six points coming from the free-throw line. The Blue and Green converted 11 of 16 charity stripe attempts in the second half. Mercer - the conference's second-best free-throw shooting team - missed 1-of-3 free throws in the final three minutes and two with a chance to tie the contest and ended the game 10-18 (.556) at the line.

In the final three minutes of play, Mercer shot 0-2 from the field and committed two turnovers. Mercer's First Team All-Conference member, Langston Hall finished with 16 points and five rebounds, while Jakob Gollon added a game-high 17 points and eight rebounds for the Bears.

Read the Atlantic Sun Insider Column: Madness Hits Macon for Semifinal Game

Second Team All-Conference selection, Sherwood Brown was best for the Eagles in scoring with 14 with three three-pointers, while sophomore guard Christophe Varidel added 13 points with the a good chunk coming from the stripe (6-7). Brett Comer, All-Freshmen Team member, guided the Eagles at the point with nine points, five rebounds and five assists.

Both the men's and women's team for the Eagles are in the championship final in their first year of eligibility for the tournament. In three of the last five championships, the same member institution has captured both crowns (ETSU; 2009, 2010) and (Belmont; 2007).

FGCU advances to Saturday's 7 p.m. ET championship final on ESPN2 against top-seeded Belmont Bruins. The Bruins own a 7-2 all-time advantage vs. the Eagles, which includes a Belmont sweep of FGCU this season.

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The Atlantic Sun Conference is an NCAA Division I league with 10 member institutions committed to Building Winners for Life. The A-Sun meets the challenge of maintaining the highest standards in academic and athletic achievement with a true balance between student and athlete. Headquartered in Macon, Ga., the A-Sun boasts six of the top eight media markets in the Southeast. The A-Sun includes a blend of the most prestigious and dynamic private and public institutions in the region: Belmont University, East Tennessee State University, Florida Gulf Coast University, Jacksonville University, Kennesaw State University, Lipscomb University, Mercer University, University of North Florida, University of South Carolina Upstate and Stetson University.