ARLINGTON, Texas – Florida Gulf Coast put on one last show at the NCAA tournament.
The high-flying kids from “Dunk City” – the No. 15 seed few people even knew of on Selection Sunday – were hitting 3-pointers, had a highlight alley-oop and seemed like they were just getting started against one of the big schools from Florida.
SEC regular-season champion Florida, the No. 3 seed, was getting an all-too-close look at what everybody has enjoyed watching this March. But Michael Frazier’s only two baskets of the night got the Gators on their own run, and FGCU’s improbable run to the round of 16 came to an end Friday night.
Frazier’s 3-pointers came from the left side, directly in front of the FGCU bench, to start a 16-0 run late in the first half. That put the Gators ahead to stay on the way to a 62-50 victory.
“Stepping into a situation like this where you have everybody against us, we’ve got to block everything out. Just treat this like a road game,” said Mike Rosario, who led the Gators with 15 points. “I thought we did a great job of blocking everything out and focusing on the next play.”
Florida is going to its third straight NCAA regional final, even after the Eagles jumped out to an early 11-point lead. The Gators (29-7) and their roster filled with NCAA tourney experience were just too strong and too good.
Once Frazier hit his shots, things just rolled downhill for the Eagles (26-11), whose program is so new they were only in their second season of eligibility for the tournament. The baskets started a 41/2-minute span when the Eagles couldn’t even get off a shot. They missed their only field-goal attempt while turning the ball over four times in that stretch.
“When they started their run, we didn’t have the energy we had in the other two games,” Eagles forward Chase Fieler said “We weren’t playing with the same fire we were before.”