With 24 points from Sherwood Brown and a healthy dose of swagger, 15th-seeded Florida Gulf Coast upset second-seeded Georgetown.
PHILADELPHIA — College basketball, meet Florida Gulf Coast.
A school so new that it wasn’t eligible for the NCAA tournament until last year, it busted a load of brackets Friday night.
With 24 points from Sherwood Brown and a healthy dose of swagger, FGCU upset second-seeded Georgetown 78-68 in the second round of the South Regional.
“It’s an unbelievable feeling. … They’re a historic school,” forward Chase Fieler said of Georgetown. “So, being a newer school, it’s very exciting for us to be able to win a game like that and for the NCAA history.”
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Just a night before, Harvard — the nation’s oldest university, founded in 1636 — pulled off a major upset over fourth-seeded New Mexico. Now, one of its youngest — FGCU’s first student was admitted in 1997 — has an even bigger one.
The Eagles used a 21-2 second-half run to pull away from the Hoyas and then held on in the final minute to become just the seventh No. 15 seed to beat a No. 2.
Bernard Thompson had 23 points for Florida Gulf Coast, the champions of the Atlantic Sun Conference. FGCU (25-10) plays seventh-seeded San Diego State on Sunday.
FGCU point guard Brett Comer was part of a play late in the game that almost brought down the house, throwing an alley-oop pass from the corner that Fieler grabbed and threw down with a one-handed dunk.
“Nothing special. It’s something me and him have done this year,” Comer said. “We knew what was going to happen there. Time and place didn’t matter. I knew he’d catch it. You saw the result. The whole place went nuts and we really got the momentum from there.”
Said Fieler: “That might be the highest I’ve ever jumped. We’ll have to check the video. Brett has great vision. That was his 10th assist. He just threw it up and I had to go get it.”
The Hoyas (25-7) staged a furious rally to get within 72-68 with 52 seconds left, but the Eagles went 6 of 10 from the free-throw line to seal it.
“I’m very proud of our players,” said FGCU coach Andy Enfield, whose wife, supermodel Amanda Marcum, was shown several times on the arena’s big screen.
For those who don’t know FCGU, and that was probably plenty of people as of Friday afternoon, Florida Gulf Coast is a state university in Fort Myers with an enrollment of about 12,000 students.
This is FGCU’s first tournament and Georgetown’s 29th, including the 1984 national championship. But the Eagles did beat Miami earlier this season.
It was another disappointing NCAA exit for the Hoyas, who have lost to a double-digit seed in their last four appearances. The last time they made it to the second weekend of the tournament was in 2007, when they reached the Final Four.
“I wish I could, trust me, more than anyone on this Earth,” Georgetown coach John Thompson III said when asked if he could figure out the losses to lower seeds. “I’ve tried to analyze it, think about it, look at it, think about what we should do differently and I don’t know.”
Markel Starks had 23 points for the Hoyas, a tri-champion of the Big East regular season and one of the top defensive teams in the nation.
That didn’t seem to bother the Eagles much.
While Georgetown came in allowing 55.7 points per game, FGCU beat that number with 9:22 to play when it led 57-40. The Hoyas allowed opponents to shoot 37.6 percent from the field, fourth-best in the country. The Eagles shot 42.9 percent (21 of 49) and they held the Hoyas to 37.5 percent from the field (24 of 64).
Big East Player of the Year Otto Porter Jr. had 13 points on 5-of-17 shooting and 11 rebounds. On this night he couldn’t match Brown, the A-Sun’s player of the year.
Porter, a sophomore who said he hasn’t made a decision yet on whether to return to Georgetown next season, said “winning is hard.”
“They got out in transition, and that started their run,” he said. “They started knocking down the shot. It’s hard when a team is knocking down shots like that.”
The FGCU fans who made the trip to Philadelphia were loud all game. The rest of the crowd at Wells Fargo Center joined them during the big run and there’s nothing to bring fans together like rooting against a heavy favorite.
“I don’t think anybody on our team has ever played in front of that many people,” said reserve forward Eddie Murray, who had nine points.
The Eagles charged at their fans when the game ended and — after some of them shook hands with Hall of Famer and TV analyst Reggie Miller — it was a celebration that could be felt all the way to back to campus.
As the night wound down, one fan yelled at the Eagles to stick around Philly a couple of more days.
“Get a cheese steak, kid! Get a cheese steak!”
The crowd then paid Florida Gulf Coast the ultimate tribute: the E-A-G-L-E-S! Eagles! chant reserved for their favorite NFL team.
San Diego State 70, Oklahoma 55
In Philadelphia, Jamaal Franklin scored 21 points and James Rahon had 17 as the seventh-seeded Aztecs (23-10) earned a Sunday date with the tournament’s Cinderella team, Florida Gulf Coast. The Aztecs made 16 of 17 free throws, the 10th-seeded Sooners (20-12) just 4 of 8.
North Carolina 78, Villanova 71
In Kansas City, Mo., P.J. Hairston scored 23 points, James Michael McAdoo added 17 and North Carolina (25-10) unleashed a flurry of three-pointers to subdue gritty Villanova (20-14), giving coach Roy Williams his 700th career victory. The Tar Heels’ victory set up a dream matchup Sunday against Kansas, where Williams coached for 15 years.
Kansas 64, Western Kentucky 57
In Kansas City, top-seeded Kansas struggled to put away scrappy Western Kentucky but avoided what would have been the biggest upset on a day full of them. Jeff Withey scored 17 for the Jayhawks (30-5), who trailed 31-30 at halftime after being flummoxed by the full-court pressure of the Hilltoppers (20-16).
Florida 79, Northwestern St. 47
In Austin, Texas, Erik Murphy had 18 points to lead four Florida players in double figures and the third-seeded Gators shut down the NCAA’s highest-scoring team. Florida (27-7) held the 14th-seeded Demons (23-9) to their fewest points this season. Florida plays Minnesota Sunday.
Minnesota 83, UCLA 63
In Austin, Andre Hollins scored 28 points and Minnesota (21-12) rolled past punchless UCLA in a game that could be the last one in the program for Bruins freshman Shabazz Muhammad and coach Ben Howland. Another early exit by the sixth-seeded Bruins (25-10) won’t help Howland’s future. Muhammad, expected to leave for the NBA, led the Bruins with 20 points.