FGCU routs Jacksonville, can clinch conference next week

Lee Herald Favicon 16The race for the Atlantic Sun regular season title is looking less and less like a race.

And that’s the way the FGCU men’s basketball team likes it.

Zach Johnson scored 25 points, Brandon Goodwin scored 24, and the Eagles were barely threatened as they cruised to an easy 80-55 road win over Jacksonville on Saturday.

With the win, the Eagles kept their undefeated ASUN record intact, moving to 9-0. Even bigger than that, second-place Jacksonville now sits three games behind and the Eagles could clinch their second straight conference regular-season title as early as this weekend.

Not that it matters right now.

“One game win streaks,” Johnson said. “Couple of hours and its over with. Onto the next.”

The Eagles(18-8, 9-0) led by eight at the half, 33-25, and though Jacksonville trimmed the gap to 35-30 early in the second half, there was hardly a scare to be had after that. The Eagles reeled off nine straight, capped by a three from Johnson to make it 44-30 with 16:21 to go in the second.

Minutes later, a 12-2 run pressed the advantage further, a driving layup from Goodwin pushed the lead to 20 at 58-38 with 7:50 left. The Eagles would eventually lead by as many as 28, shooting 54 percent from the field in the second half.

Jacksonville(12-14, 6-3), who managed a late lead in the two teams’ first matchup in Fort Myers before falling 68-62, led only once, at 3-2.

“We played a really strong game, and – for the most part – put together a full 40 minutes,” said Eagles coach Joe Dooley. “We had some lapses on both ends of the floor in spots in the 1st half and early in the 2nd half, but we responded well. We took care of the ball, Zach and Brandon played terrific to set the tone and we had a pretty good defensive performance as well.”

On Thursday, the Eagles travel to NJIT(12-12, 5-4), while Jacksonville plays third-place Lipscomb. The Bisons fell into a three-way tie with NJIT and North Florida after losing to the Highlanders on Saturday, 81-77.

With a win on Thursday and a Jacksonville loss, the Eagles will be assured at minimum a share of the conference title. They clinch the title outright with a win Thursday and on Saturday against last-place USC-Upstate.

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