Another quick start for Florida Gulf Coast had Eagles fans briefly dreaming about a miraculous run to the Elite Eight, but No. 3 Florida quickly responded to put an end to those dreams.
FGCU jumped out to a 15-4 run and the general feeling among viewers was “here we go again” with this ultimate Cinderella team, but the Gators composed themselves, made a run of their own and then leaned on their championship caliber defence to keep the Eagles at arm’s length the rest of the way.
Florida Gulf Coast was by no means dominated in this game and their entertaining run to the Sweet Sixteen will go down as one of the most memorable underdog stories in tournament history, but as mentioned in the preview, they hadn’t faced a defence as good as Florida’s yet. Considering that the Eagles averaged 79.5 points on 50 per cent shooting in their first two games and scored 15 points in the first six minutes of tonight’s game, I think the Gators will be pleased with holding FGCU to just 50 points on 45 per cent shooting.
Next up for Billy Donovan’s team, who advance to their third straight Elite Eight, is a South Regional Final against an even more high powered offence in No. 4 Michigan.
As for Florida Gulf Coast, considering that they’ve appeared in back-to-back Atlantic Sun Conference championship games and have made a trip to the Sweet Sixteen in just their second year of full post-season eligibility, you get the feeling that the Eagles might become a tournament regular for the foreseeable future. In any event, the program should be commended for what they’ve been able to achieve in a short period of time and the 2012-13 team especially should be lauded for the entertaining style of play they brought to this year’s tourney.