Chase Fieler and Christophe Varidel each pitched in 18 points as Florida Gulf Coast beat Florida International 76-73 Thursday night in a nonconference basketball game.
FGCU (7-4) led 43-31 at halftime, backed by 16 first-half points from Varidel off the bench. The junior went 4-of-6 from beyond the arc in the first half, and in the second, closed out the scoring with two free throws with six seconds remaining.
The win keeps the Eagles a perfect 6-0 on their home floor.
"We played very well in the first half and we were solid in the second, but we gave them 11 extra possessions off of turnovers and offensive rebounds," said Eagles coach Andy Enfield. "When you miss free throws and turn the ball over like we did, we were just fortunate to win. We played well enough to win but we gave them a chance to steal the game at the end."
The Golden Panthers (3-4) shot just 35.7 percent (10-of-28) in the first half, but ticked up to 46.9 percent (15-of-32) in the second. Gaby Belardo led FIU with 17 points, and Jerome Frink added 10 points and 10 rebounds.
FIU trailed 74-69 with 1:29 left, but Malik Smith's free throws with 49 seconds remaining capped a 4-0 run and pulled the Panthers within a point before Varidel hit his free throws.
The Eagles' season-best 56 percent (30-of-54) from the field helped overcome a rough night from beyond the arc (4-of-16) and at the free throw line (12-of-23).
Coming off a career-high 18 points at Iowa State, Fieler equaled that total by going 8-of-11 from the field, including four dunks that raised his season total to 23, to go with five rebounds. All four of the team's makes from three-point land came from Varidel.
Sophomores Brett Comer and Bernard Thompson were the other double-digit scorers for the Eagles with 14 points each. Comer added seven assists and had five rebounds in his season-high 34 minutes of work.
The Eagles are back in action at Alico Arena Tuesday night when it hosts Southeastern.
FGCU softball coach David Deiros unveiled the Eagles' 2013 schedule this week. The Eagles play in four spring tournaments and face four opponents who qualified for the 2012 NCAA Tournament, as well as a game with 2012 Women's College World Series (WCWS) champion Alabama, highlight the season lineup.
The Eagles' competitive schedule features six teams from BCS conferences that include Villanova, Michigan State, Minnesota, Iowa State, Alabama and Stanford. The slate also features 14 teams that landed in the top 100 RPI last season.
FGCU opens the season on the road with a doubleheader against FIU in Miam on Feb. 13. FGCU returns to open the home schedule with its first of two scheduled tournaments. The Eagles begin with Wichita State (Feb. 15) and nationally No. 1 ranked Alabama (Feb. 15), before facing Appalachian State (Feb. 16), Southern Illinois (Feb. 16) and Georgia Southern (Feb. 17) the final two days.
The Eagles then host their second tournament the following weekend with Minnesota (Feb. 22), Villanova (Feb. 23), Albany (Feb. 23), Michigan State (Feb. 24), and St. Bonaventure (Feb. 24) the following two days.
The Eagles then hit the road to play in the Under Armour Showcase hosted by USF in Clearwater. They play five games from Mar. 1-3 including St. Joseph's (Mar. 1), Quinnipiac (Mar. 1), Kent State (Mar. 2), Central Connecticut (Mar. 2) and Maine (Mar. 3) in the three-day span.
The team heads cross-country to the west coast to participate in the Stanford Louisville Slugger Classic hosted by Stanford in Palo Alto, Calif. In a three-day span, the Eagles face both Pacific (Mar. 8, Mar. 9) and Stanford (Mar. 8, Mar. 9) twice and finish with a rematch against Minnesota (Mar. 10).
The Eagles come home Mar. 13 to face Maine and Valparaiso, then start Atlantic Sun Conference play against Stetson, a three-game series starting Mar. 16 and close out regular season play on the road at in-state rival UNF on May 3.