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Furman Rally Falls Short At FGCU, 83-78

Devin Sibley
Devin Sibley
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Fort Myers, Fla. -- Furman rallied from a 12-point deficit in the final three minutes to pull within a basket, but Florida Gulf Coast held on to down the Paladins, 83-78, in non-conference men's basketball action on Friday evening at the Alico Arena in Fort Myers, Fla.

Trailing 76-64 following Julian DeBose's three-pointer with 2:54 to play, Furman staged a furious rally.  Stephen Croone drove down the lane to score and completed the three-point play at the foul line before stealing the ball from DeBose.  Kendrec Ferrara scored on the next possession and drained the free throw to complete his three-point play that cut the deficit to 76-70 with 2:20 remaining.

Marc-Eddy Norella missed a layup on the other end and freshman Devin Sibley, who netted a career-high 20 points, responded with a trey to trim the Eagles' lead to 76-73 with 1:53 to play.  Brett Comer drove to the basket and notched a three-point play for FGCU, but Croone answered with a three ball for the Paladins to bring them back within three at 79-76 with 1:13 left.

After Comer drew a foul and made both free throw on FGCU's possession, Daniel Fowler scored in traffic to bring the score to 8-178 with 36 seconds left, but the Eagles' DeBose converted on a pair of free throws on the other end and Furman failed to score despite four looks at the basket on its final possession.

Comer scored 15 of his team-high 19 points in the second half to pace the Eagles and recorded a double-double by adding 10 assists.  DeBose netted 14 points and Demetris Morant finished with 13 points on 6-of-9 shooting.

The Eagles shot 48.4% from the floor, including 56.3% in the second half, and fashioned a 43-34 edge in rebounding that led to 14 second-chance points.

Sibley hit 6-of-10 shots from the field and 5-of-9 at the foul line to lead four Paladins in double figures.  Croone netted 18 points to reach double figures for the 28th consecutive games, while freshman Geoff Beans and Ferrara added 16 and 13 points, respectively.

Furman shot 42.6% from the field and overcame a 1-for-11 effort beyond the arc in the opening half to hit 5-of-12 three-point attempts over the final 20 minutes.

FGCU used a 7-0 run midway through the first half to erase a 14-13 Furman advantage and grab the lead for good.  The Eagles led by just six at 59-63 with under 7:30 to play when Comer converted on a three-point play, Norella buried a jumper and Bernard Thompson followed a Furman free throw with a three-pointer to push the margin to 13 points with under six minutes to play.

Furman (2-7) returns to action on Monday night when it faces the Minnesota Golden Gophers at Williams Arena in Minneapolis, Minn.  Tip-off is slated for 8 p.m. EST and the game will be streamed live on ESPN3. Fans can listen to the broadcast on the Furman IMG Sports Network on flagship station WGOG 96.3 FM and Fox Sports 1440 AM with play-by-play voice Dan Scott and color commentator Ron Smith delivering the action.  The audio broadcast will also be available by logging onto Tunein.com  Links for the broadcast and live statistics will be available at FurmanPaladins.com.

Jordan Caskey, Furman Sports Information