Florida Gulf Coast University, off to its best start since joining Division I, extended that record by a game Sunday when it downed UMass 84-75 in Springfield, Mass., during the opening game of the Basketball Hall of Fame Holiday Classic.
The Eagles (8-1) have now won three in a row and also extended another impressive streak after going to halftime with a 36-33 advantage. FGCU is now 28-0 when leading at the break dating back to the 2013-13 season.
Sunday’s victory was aided by a big game from guard Bernard Thompson, who led all Eagles scorers with 20 points to go along with six rebounds. Fellow guards Jamail Jones added 16 points and four boards, while Julian DeBose reached double figures with 13 points, as did forward Marc-Eddy Norelia with 15 points.
Eagles star guard Brett Comer dished out a team-high 14 assists to go along with nine points and five rebounds in the win.
For UMass (5-4), the defeat marked the Minutemen’s third straight loss.
Guard Donte Clark led all UMass scorers with 25 points, but he had 16 of those at halftime before being locked down by FGCU’s defense in the second half.
Minuteman leading scorer Maxie Esho added 11 points and five rebounds, but he was the only other UMass player to reach double figures in the loss. Center Cady Lalanne chipped in nine points and a team-high six boards and guard Trey Davis scored six points and handed out a team-high eight assists.
The game was the first-ever meeting between the two schools.
UMass will try to rebound next Saturday at home against Canisius, while Florida Gulf Coast gets a week off before its next game at home Dec. 14 against state rival Florida International.
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