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FGCU runs out of magic
Posted By HOOPSWORLD On March 30, 2013 @ 2:00 am In Wirenews | Comments Disabled
by Eric Prisbell, USA TODAY Sports
ARLINGTON, Texas -— Florida Gulf Coast, the free-wheeling No. 15 seed that has redefined the term Cinderella team, took the court against Florida as if this were a pickup game near the beach in Fort Myers.
In 75 years of the NCAA tournament, college basketball fans has never seen a collection of pressure-free players quite like the “Dunk City” Eagles, the first No. 15 seed ever to play in the Sweet 16.
Throughout their game against third-seeded Florida, they used the same unbridled enthusiasm and unmistakable athleticism that fueled upsets over Georgetown and San Diego State. But ultimately they struggled to contend with Florida on the boards and navigate its defense, bowing out of the NCAA tournament with a 62-50 defeat before an announced crowd of 40,639 at Cowboys Stadium.
Florida advanced to play fourth-seeded Michigan, whose improbable three-minute rally from a 10-point deficit eliminated top-seeded Kansas, in Sunday’s South Region final.
Florida Gulf Coast had been the most refreshing, most compelling story line during the NCAA tournament’s first week. The Eagles have been in Division I basketball for just six years and eligible for postseason play for just two. Their coach, Andy Enfield, has an MBA in finance, a model for a wife and a team full of players who had no clue that they had no business playing this deep into the NCAA tournament.
But as often happens to small school underdogs in this tournament, reality hits when they collide with elite power conference teams in the Sweet 16. The exuberant FGCU fans continued to wave banners and flags to the very end Friday night, even as fans supporting other schools streamed to the exits in the game’s final two minutes. And in the final seconds, the FGCU fans stood and applauded the players, as Florida fans chanted “Almost Midnight,” referencing the end of the Cinderella run.
After squandering an 11-point first half lead, FGCU’s Chase Fieler threw down one of the Eagles’ trademark dunks to slice the deficit to seven points with 3:14 to play. Florida, a veteran team that is one victory away from giving coach Billy Donovan his fourth Final … [For more on FGCU runs out of magic, as Florida chomps Cinderella run short, click here.]
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