It will stand as the biggest win for an Eagles team in Philadelphia in quite some time.
After an afternoon session of NCAA tournament action at the Wells Fargo Center that mainly stuck to script (see Session 1 notebook), the madness struck on Friday night when No. 15 Florida Gulf Coast pulled off the biggest upset so far by holding on for a stunning 78-68 victory over second-seeded Georgetown.
The Eagles -- who have only been a Division I school for six years and are making their first appearance in the Big Dance -- became just the seventh No. 15 seed to ever topple a No. 2 seed.
“It is an unbelievable feeling,” Florida Gulf Coast junior forward Chase Fieler said. “We played a very tough team in Georgetown. They have great players. They’re a very historic school, so being a newer school it’s very exciting for us to be able to win a game like that.”
Florida Gulf Coast busted a two-point game at intermission wide open with a 21-2 run in the second half on the backs of guards Sherwood Brown and Bernard Thompson, who combined for 47 points.
“Coming into this game, we really knew we had nothing to lose,” Brown said. “Georgetown had all the pressure on them. We were just going to come out and play hard.
“I really felt like we had them right where we wanted them when we went into halftime and we were up by two. We’re really a team that comes out in the second half with a lot of fire, so that’s when I knew we had them.”
On the flip side, it was Georgetown’s fourth straight loss in the NCAA tournament to a double-digit seed.
“They played well, you know. They outplayed us tonight,” Georgetown head coach John Thompson III said. “Have to give them all the credit for the outcome.”
In the night’s other matchup, seventh-seeded San Diego State clamped down on No. 10 seed Oklahoma after halftime to claim a 70-55 victory.
The Aztecs held the Sooners to just 39.7 shooting from the field and 25 percent from three-point range to advance to the round of 32. San Diego State and Florida Gulf Coast will meet on Sunday.
With the day’s other games likely garnering at least some your attention, here’s a recap of the best the tourney had to offer inside the Wells Fargo Center during Friday night’s session.
With such a monster upset, it’s only fitting that it took two players to carry the bulk of the scoring load.
Florida Gulf Coast’s Brown and Thompson scored 24 and 23 points, respectively. Each player connected on 3 of 6 attempts from long range to help the Eagles get the Cinderella chatter started.
Don’t be fooled by Jamaal Franklin’s measured pace to his game. The 6-foot-5 Aztecs junior guard can flat out play.
Franklin scored 21 points, grabbed eight rebounds and had five assists in San Diego State’s win over Oklahoma.
Best player you never heard of
Chances are you didn’t find out the names of many Florida Gulf Coast players until the upset looked like a real possibility. As a matter of fact, you still may not know most of their names.
While Sherwood and Thompson did a majority of the scoring, it was sophomore guard Brett Comer that controlled the game. He did whatever the Eagles needed, finishing with 12 points, 10 assists and six rebounds.
The Hoyas didn’t go quietly. They made some big-time threes in the second half to whittle a once 19-point deficit down to just four.
But the Eagles made some electrifying plays once they broke the full-court press and sank their free throws to ice the game. The celebration was on from there.
Prior to Friday’s game, Thompson III said Florida Gulf Coast was “as bouncy” as any Big East team.
The Eagles certainly showed that time and again with several thunderous dunks, none bigger than when Comer flipped up an alley-oop in the open court to a soaring Fieler with 1:54 remaining in the game.
It was enough to bring fans wearing any school color in the building right out of their seats.
Best March moment
With FGCU’s dream becoming a reality in the final seconds against Georgetown, the Eagles took the chance to soak up their moment in the spotlight.
Brown shook hands with television analysts Reggie Miller and Len Elmore. Comer fired up the crowd and the bench went bonkers.
This is what March Madness is all about.
Biggest turning point
Clearly the Eagles’ huge second-half run made the difference in their upset, but the Aztecs were not to be outdone.
Locked in a 48-48 tie in the second half, San Diego State held Oklahoma without a point from the 10:41 mark until 6:50 was left on the clock. The Aztecs used an 8-0 run during that span to put the game away.
Best blooper that worked out
With the lead in hand during the final minutes, Franklin found himself all alone on a fastbreak. He decided to go for a little flash with a double-clutch, reverse dunk. The only thing was Franklin took off from a bit too far.
Not to worry. The ball hit the rim and bounced up twice before falling through the net.
“We had a big lead. We just had to keep the pressure on them, just go down, play defense, get stops and just keep attacking them until they just cracked and they cracked.” – Florida Gulf Coast’s Bernard Thompson
It’s hard not to go with the Hoyas’ iconic Jack the Bulldog, but we’ll give San Diego State the nod on this one. The Aztec warrior was able to don a loincloth and shimmery headdress in Philly and survive to talk about it afterward. That’s an accomplishment in itself.
We certainly respect the San Diego State supporters that made the 2,732-mile trek to town, but the Florida Gulf Coast fans stole the night.
They were loud, confident and the biggest winners. Checkmate.
This honor goes to one Florida Gulf Coast fan that matched the school’s emerald green and cobalt blue with a white feather boa. Professional wrestlers everywhere would have been proud of this man.
We’re going with Oklahoma here. The Sooner cheerleaders mixed traditional moves with a blend of line-dance footwork. Nice touch.
The team may not have won the game, but Georgetown’s pep band was definitely a winner. It helps that band director Aaron Broadus had the university logo painted on his bald head.
No losers in this category, but Georgetown is just a step above. Classic colors and classic look.
Franklin’s gold Nikes definitely stood out against the Aztecs’ all white uniforms.
Best Philly connection
Several City 6 legends were honored by the NCAA during halftime, including Jim Lynam and Mark Macon.
However, the best Philadelphia link of the night came when local fans in attendance that adopted Florida Gulf Coast as their new team and showered the players with an "E-A-G-L-E-S! Eagles!" chant.