FGCU moves into Sweet 16 by stunning AztecsMar 25, 2013 - 2:47 PM Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - Cinderella now wears a dress colored in cobalt blue and emerald green.
Florida Gulf Coast ousted San Diego State, 81-71, becoming the first No. 15 seed to advance to the Sweet 16.
The Eagles' improbable run will continue thanks to their victory Sunday in NCAA South Region third round action. FGCU moves on to face the third-seeded Florida Gators at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas Friday night.
"As everyone seen, we're doing something special out here," Brown said. "We've been told that this is what college basketball is all about. I mean, we're really blessed and we're really happy to be here right now. But we've still got a lot more games to play hopefully, so we're going to go back home and get our heads back straight and get ready to play against University of Florida."
Bernard Thompson scored 23 points, and Sherwood Brown had 17 and pulled down eight rebounds for the Eagles (26-10), who became just the seventh No. 15 seed to earn a victory in the NCAA Tournament on Friday, with their 78-68 triumph over No. 2 seed Georgetown. Chase Fieler donated 11 points and Brett Comer supplied 10 to go along with 14 assists in the momentous victory.
"I mean, we've been hearing it all -- since the game -- actually before the game started we've been hearing that a 15 seed has never advanced to the Sweet 16," Brown added. "So that just gave us a little extra motivation to go out there and get that victory here tonight."
Jamaal Franklin paced San Diego State with 20 points and 11 boards, while Chase Tapley had 17 points for the seventh-seeded Aztecs (23-11), who were looking to make it to the round of 16 for the second time in the last three seasons.
After a highly competitive first half and early portion of the second stanza, the contest soon changed around the midway point.
Xavier Thames brought the Aztecs within 54-52 on a jumper with 11 1/2 to play, but Sherwood ignited a crucial 17-0 Eagles' flurry with back-to-back triples. Thompson then capped the spurt by splitting a pair of free throws to make it 71-52 with 4:19 to play.
The Aztecs failed to score a point from the 11:33 to 4:00 mark during the game-changing surge which ultimately sent them packing.
As the shock and excitement started to surround the crowd and both school's fans, back-to-back slams by Eric McKnight -- in between a Tapley triple -- with 3:22 to play, excused any attempts by San Diego State to creep back in the contest.
Florida Gulf Coast, which has also recently been called "Dunk City" referring to an alley opp slam that capped the Georgetown victory on Friday, fittingly secured the victory with a monster slam by Thompson that made it 79-63 with 1:18 remaining.
"The only water I had was the water they threw on me when I got in the locker room," Florida Gulf Coast coach Andy Enfield said of his emotions. "I haven't cried yet. I might cry tomorrow. But it's just a great feeling, so proud of these players, what they've been through for the last two years only the second year of eligibility. It really speaks volumes. No tears yet, but maybe in the future."
San Diego State took a 35-34 edge into the break in a first half that went back-and-forth. Threes by Franklin and Tapley with less than five minutes to play increased SDSU's advantage to five, before Franklin nailed a jumper with 2:20 to play that gave the team a six-point lead, its biggest of the half.
Fieler, however, scored FGCU's final five points to close the action and bring the Eagles within one. Both squads made 13 field goals after 20 minutes of play, but Florida Gulf Coast connected on 5-of-9 from behind the arc compared to 3-of-10 for the Aztecs.
"I said before, seeding doesn't mean anything come March Madness," Franklin said. "The seeding is pretty much just a number it says next to you in the bracket. We made the lead that they had dropped for a little bit, but at the end of the day they got the victory and shout out to them for being a good team and staying composed and winning the game, and I wish them the best going to the Sweet 16."
Florida Gulf Coast became the second team all-time to record at least two wins in its first NCAA Tournament appearance. Florida also accomplished the feat in 1987 ... Brown and Thompson reached double figures in the same game for the 26th time this season. It was also the 13th time that the duo has been the team's top two scorers ... The Eagles have been eligible as a Division I program for just two years ... SDSU is 3-9 in nine all-time in the NCAA Tourney ... The Aztecs are now 3-3 as a higher seed than their opponent.
- FLA GULF COAST: 81
SAN DIEGO STATE: 71
Mar 24 9:15 PM
- FLA GULF COAST: 34
SAN DIEGO STATE: 35
Mar 24 8:00 PM
- FLA GULF COAST: 0
SAN DIEGO STATE: 0
1st Half - 20:00
Mar 24 7:11 PM
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