ORLANDO - The 14th-seeded FGCU Eagles battled all night with ACC runner-up and 3rd-seeded Florida State (26-8), but ultimately came up short in an 86-80 loss Thursday night in the First Round of the NCAA Tournament West Regional.
Guard Brandon Goodwin led the way for the Eagles (26-8) with a game-high 28 points and seven assists. Teammate innin mate Zach Johnson added 17 points with five assists and four rebounds.
Going against the second-tallest team in the nation presented a formidable obstacle for FGCU, but it increased in difficulty significantly when ASUN Defensive Player of the Year Demetris Morant exited the game for good in the opening minutes of the second half with a right ankle injury. The uber-athletic 6-foot-9 redshirt senior forward had five points and five rebounds when he departed at the 17:19 mark.
Despite not having their third-leading scorer (10.7) and leading rebounder (8) and shot blocker (1.5), the Eagles hung tough behind the backcourt duo of Goodwin and Johnson as the duo accounted for 26 of FGCU's 44 second-half points.
FGCU trimmed a double-figure deficit to just four, 64-60, with less than 10 minutes to play, but a 7-0 spurt by the Seminoles (26-8) pushed their edge to 11 and FGCU got no closer than the final margin.
"First off, I want to give credit to Florida State," said Eagles coach Joe Dooley. "They took advantage of what turnovers we did have, and their length disrupted us into taking some poor shots. But I'm really proud of our guys for the way they fought and battled all night, especially without Meech. It's been a great year, and we're looking forward to getting back to work next week to make sure next year is even better."
The Eagles committed just 11 turnovers, but after six of FSU's first 12 points in the game came off FGCU turnovers, the Seminoles concluded the night with only 13 points off giveaways compared to 19 by the Eagles.
Goodwin's 28 points are one off matching his season high and two off his career best.
Dwayne Bacon led FSU with 25 points and nine rebounds, while Naples product Jonathan Isaac recorded a double-double with 17 points and 10 rebounds.