Late three by Mercurius holds off NJIT, Eagles clinch share of ASUN

Lee Herald Favicon 16Dinero Mercurius hit a three with just under four minutes remaining, sparking a 7-0 run that allowed the FGCU men’s basketball team to hold off NJIT, 75-70 in Newark on Thursday, and clinch a share of the Atlantic Sun regular season title.

After trailing by as many as 13 in the second half, the Highlanders(12-13, 5-5 ASUN) rallied back, eventually tying the game at 65 with 4:02 left to play on a layup by Abdul Lewis. Lewis led all scorers with 23 points.

On the next possession, the Eagles Michael Gilmore nearly lost an entry pass down low but managed to chase it down in the corner and flip it to Mercurius, who hit the go-ahead three from the right wing with 3:34 to go.

The Eagles(19-8, 10-0) would force a pair of turnovers, the last of which turning into a transition bucket with 1:57 left by Christian Terrell to make it 70-65, while Antravious Simmons hit a pair of free throws with 1:07 left to make it a three-score game.

Terrell led five Eagles in double figures, scoring a team-high 17 points. Zach Johnson scored 15, Brandon Goodwin had 14, while Simmons added 12 and Mercurius 10 points.

FGCU shot 55.6 percent from the field, including 8-of-14 from the three-point line.

The win moved the Eagles to 10-0 in ASUN play, and coupled with a loss by second-place Jacksonville on Thursday, assured the Eagles at worst a share of the conference regular season title. They lead Jacksonville and Lipscomb by four games, with four games remaining in the season. FGCU can clinch the conference, and the No. 1 seed in next month’s conference tournament, with a win on Saturday against last-place USC-Upstate.

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