RALEIGH, N.C. - For one half it seemed as if No. 16 FGCU could do the unthinkable as the Eagles trailed top-seeded North Carolina by only one points at halftime, 41-40. However, the Tar Heels ended the dream with an impressive second period to claim a 16-point victory in PNC Arena. Previously in the NCAA Tournament, FGCU became the first-ever 15 seed to reach the Sweet 16 with two wins in the 2013 version of March Madness.
The 2016 A-Sun Champions led the Tar Heels almost five minutes into the game before UNC stretched its advantage to as much as 11 with 9:50 to go before the break. FGCU battled back to cut the deficit to one on Marc-Eddy Norelia's layin with 1:08 left. Antravious Simmons' 11-first half points were most for the Eagles heading into the locker rooms as three other FGCU players tallied at least seven points. In the opening stanza, FGCU shot 60 percent from the field on 15-of-25 attempts.
North Carolina dominated in the second half outscoring FGCU, 42-27, with Brice Johnson collecting a game-high 18 points to go along with eight blocks and seven rebounds. In the loss, Norelia secured his 16th double-double of the season with 10 points and 11 boards. The A-Sun Championship MVP and First Team All-Conference member finished the year with 597 points & 325 rebounds, which rank 32nd & 11th in conference single-season history.
Christian Terrell posted a team-high 15 points as the sophomore guard distributed seven assists with only one turnover. Terrell collected seven rebounds and two steals in 34 minutes of action. Simmons finished with 14 points for FGCU as the sophomore dealt with foul trouble for majority of the second half.
Senior Julian DeBose finished his FGCU career with a seven-point effort as he secured five rebounds, while fellow senior Filip Cvjeticanin came off the bench to land one steal in six minutes. The Eagles return all but two players for next year's squad including six underclassmen that averaged at least 10 minutes per game. North Carolina advances to face the winner of USC & Providence.
FGCU vs. North Carolina NCAA First Round Notes
- The Eagles became the first team in A-Sun history to win in two separate NCAA Tournaments.
- FGCU posted its fourth-straight 20-win season; an accomplishment that hasn't happened in the A-Sun since 2009.
- Norelia's 16 double-doubles rank second in the conference this season, while he sits tied for 22nd in the NCAA this season.
- FGCU's season ends with a 21-14 record including an 8-6 mark in Atlantic Sun play. The 2016 NCAA Tournament appearance marked the fourth-straight postseason trip for the Eagles.
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