PHILADELPHIA – College basketball, meet Florida Gulf Coast.
A school so new it wasn’t eligible for the NCAA tournament until last year busted a load of brackets Friday night.
With 24 points from Sherwood Brown and a healthy dose of swagger, FGCU upset second-seeded Georgetown 78-68 in the second round of the South Regional.
“This is our first time being in the NCAA tournament. To actually go out there and win that first game, it means something really special to us,” said Brown, who was the first of the players to head toward the Florida Gulf Coast cheering section with several seconds still on the clock.
The Eagles used a 21-2 second-half run to pull away from the Hoyas and then held on in the final minute to become just the seventh No. 15 seed to beat a No. 2.
“It’s an unbelievable feeling. We played a very tough team in Georgetown. They have great players. They’re a historic school,” forward Chase Fieler said. “So being a newer school it’s very exciting for us to be able to win a game like that and for the NCAA history. That’s exciting and impressive to be a part of that.”
Bernard Thompson had 23 points for Florida Gulf Coast, the champions of the Atlantic Sun Conference.
FGCU (25-10) will play seventh-seeded San Diego State, which beat No. 10 seed Oklahoma 70-55, in the third round on Sunday.
“We decided we can play with anybody and we did,” said FGCU point guard Brett Comer, who finished with 12 points, 10 assists and just two turnovers.
Comer was part of a play late in the game that almost brought down the house, throwing an alley-oop pass from the corner that Fieler grabbed and threw down with a one-handed dunk.
“Nothing special. It’s something me and him have done this year,” Comer said. “We knew what was going to happen there. Time and place didn’t matter. I knew he’d catch it. You saw the result. The whole place went nuts and we really got the momentum from there.”
Said Fieler: “That might be the highest I’ve ever jumped. We’ll have to check the video. Brett has great vision. That was his 10th assist. He just threw it up and I had to go get it.”
Just a night before, Harvard – the nation’s oldest university, founded in 1636 – pulled off a major upset over third-seeded New Mexico. Now, one of its youngest – FGCU’s first student was admitted in 1997 – has an even bigger one.
The Eagles’ monster run gave them a 52-33 lead with 12:28 to play. The Hoyas (25-7) staged a furious rally to get within 72-68 with 52 seconds left but the Eagles hit 6 of 10 free throws to seal it.
“In the second half, we pushed the ball, we got out, we ran, we made shots, got some alley-oop dunks to energize the crowd. I’m very proud of our players,” said coach Andy Enfield.
It was another disappointing NCAA exit to a double-diget seed for the Hoyas.
“I wish I could, trust me,” Georgetown coach John Thompson III said when asked if he could figure out the losses to lower seeds.