Weir’s First Career Double-Double Fuels 12th Straight Home Win
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FORT MYERS, Fla. – The FGCU men’s basketball team (13-4, 3-1 ASUN) completed a frenetic four-game week Saturday night with perhaps the best overall effort of the season, turning in 23 unanswered points in a torrid first-half run and overwhelming visiting. North Florida 82-57 at Alico Arena. The 13-4 start to the 2022-23 season is the Green & Blue’s best in its Division I history.
Sophomore center Andre Weir (Hollywood, Fla./Chaminade-Madonna College Prep/Richmond) recorded his first career double-double – dropping a game-high 18 points and grabbing a career-high 15 rebounds. Weir’s nine offensive rebounds were two more than any North Florida player recorded.
The victory was FGCU’s 12th straight at home dating to last season, and sixth straight to remain undefeated at The Nest in 2022-23. North Florida (7-9, 2-2) fell to 1-9 on the road this season, and is now 5-13 all-time against FGCU at Alico Arena.
Senior guard Isaiah Thompson (Zionsville, Ind./Zionsville HS/Purdue) finished with 15 points, four rebounds and four assists. Senior guard Cyrus Largie (Miramar, Fla./Mater Lakes Academy) dropped 11 points and grabbed seven rebounds in his first start of the season, and junior guard Chase Johnston (Boca Raton, Fla./Westminster Academy/Stetson) added 11 points off the bench.
“I’m super proud of Andre Weir. I took him out of the starting lineup there for a bit, and he responded really well and played as hard as he could, so I put him back in – and this is how he responded,” said the FGCU head men’s basketball coach. Pat Chambers. “It’s gotta be consistent, and he understands that. He is really growing and really maturing, and we just need to keep him moving in this direction.”
North Florida got 12 points and seven rebounds from senior guard/forward Carter Hendricksen. The Ospreys shot 34.4 percent from the field and made just 7-of-29 attempts from beyond the arc. FGCU finished shooting 50.7 percent from the field, and connected on 10-of-25 treys – with Thompson making 4-of-10 triples.
FGCU went for the knockout punch early against North Florida, snapping off a 23-0 outburst that spanned 6:33 of game time and left the Ospreys gasping for air on multiple possessions. Thompson hit two triples and both Johnston and Catto added 3s in the run. And the Eagles forced UNF into 11 missed shots and four turnovers on the defensive end. When it was over, what started as a 7-6 North Florida edge at the 15:35 mark ended with a 29-7 FGCU advantage at the 8:18 mark.
The advantage was so great that FGCU was able to easily absorb North Florida’s ensuing 7-0 scoring burst that cut it to 34-19, and responded with a 9-0 run of its own for a 43-19 cushion. Johnston’s layup with six seconds remaining in the half ensured a 47-23 halftime lead – the Ospreys’ 23 points equaling a single-half low by an FGCU opponent this season (Kansas City also scored 23 first-half points on Nov. 23, 2022 ).
FGCU showed few second-half signs of exhaustion despite the week’s grueling stretch that began with an 18-point comeback win against Jacksonville and included Tuesday’s OT win at Central Arkansas and Thursday’s two-point loss at Austin Peay. The Eagles went up 30 points on a Thompson triple at the 17:44 mark, and took a 35-point lead on a Weir layup to conclude a 9-0 run with 7:06 to play.
“That was our fourth game in a week, and the travel alone was a bear,” Chambers said. “We only had one day of prep to get ready for North Florida, with the connection at the airport. I’m really proud of this group, especially our leadership council, that helped us do whatever we could do strategically to get ready for this game.”
The Eagles outrebounded the Ospreys 46-28, and the Green & Blue racked up 16 second-chance points. FGCU also outscored North Florida 48-28 in the paint. Junior forward Zach Anderson (Apopka, Fla./Apopka HS), the defending ASUN Player of the Week, added eight points and four assists for FGCU.
FGCU heads to the Bluegrass State next week for two ASUN games away from The Nest – taking on Eastern Kentucky at 7 pm Thursday, and then playing at Bellarmine at 4 pm Saturday. The Green & Blue’s next home game is Jan. 19 at 7 pm against Jacksonville State.
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Pat Chambers was officially introduced as the fifth FGCU men’s basketball head coach in March 2022 bringing a wealth of experience in college basketball highlighted by head coaching stints at Penn State and Boston University. Chambers spent nine years leading the Penn State (2011-20) program and two years as head coach at Boston University (2009-11). He has 203 career victories in that span including four 20-plus win seasons. Part of his career as a head coach was highlighted by leading the Nittany Lions to a No. 9 national ranking in 2019-20 which tied the program’s best-ever ranking set in 1996. Prior to becoming a head coach, he spent five seasons as part of the Villanova staff helping the Wildcats to a Final Four (2009), two Elite Eight , and three Sweet Sixteen appearances during his tenure.
FGCU Athletics sponsors events in November and April to benefit the FGCU Campus Food Pantry (https://www.fgcu.edu/adminservices/foodpantry) and the Harry Chapin Food Bank (www.harrychapinfoodbank.org), FGCU Athletics’ charities of choice. . For more information, including how to make a contribution, please visit https://www.fgcu.edu/adminservices/foodpantry and utilize the hashtag #FeedFGCU to help raise awareness.
FGCU teams have combined to win an incredible 94 conference regular season and tournament titles in just 15-plus seasons at the Division I level. Additionally, in just 11-plus seasons of DI postseason eligibility, the Eagles have had a combined 47 teams or individuals compete in NCAA championships. In 2022, the men’s golf team became the first program to earn an at-large berth to the NCAA Tournament. Eight FGCU programs have earned a top-25 national ranking in their respective sport – including women’s basketball (No. 20, 2021-22 and No. 25 in 2022-23) beach volleyball (No. 20, 2022) and both men’s soccer ( 2018, 2019) and women’s soccer (2018) as four of the most recent. In 2016-17, the Green & Blue posted a department-best sixth-place finish in the DI-AAA Learfield Directors’ Cup and top-100 showing nationally, ahead of several Power-5 and FBS institutions. In 2018-19, the Eagles had an ASUN and state of Florida best seven teams earn the NCAA’s Public Recognition Award for their Academic Progress Rate in their sport. FGCU also collectively earned a record 3.66 GPA in the classroom in the fall 2022 semester and has outperformed the general university undergraduate population for 27 consecutive semesters. The past seven semesters (Fall 2019 – Fall 2022) saw another milestone reached as all 15 programs achieved a 3.0-or-higher cumulative team GPA. The Eagles also served an all-time high 7,200 volunteer hours in 2017 – being recognized as one of two runners-up for the inaugural NACDA Community Service Award presented by the Fiesta Bowl.