The Kennesaw State men’s basketball team was eliminated from the Atlantic Sun Conference tournament with a 74-64 loss to Florida Gulf Coast in the quarterfinals on Tuesday.
The loss was KSU’s 11th straight against FGCU, dropping them to 6-13 in the overall series.
“There were times where we just didn’t play with the composure that we needed to play with,” KSU head coach Al Skinner said. “You have to give Florida Gulf Coast some credit for that. In the past, when we were winning over the past few games, we were playing at our pace. Tonight, we did not consistently do that.”
Skinner credited the change of pace in part to the Owls’ foul trouble. Bernard Morena fouled out in the second half, while Kendrick Ray and Kyle Clarke each picked up four fouls. The Eagles dominated the glass, outrebounding KSU 39-25. Additionally, the Owls had a rough day shooting from three-point range, going 4-13 from beyond the arc.
Senior Yonel Brown led his team offensively in his final game as an Owl with 19 points. Ray was the only other KSU player in double-digit scoring, recording 13 points and grabbing four boards.
Brown knocked down a three-point shot to start the second half, giving the Owls a 37-36 lead with 19:47 left to play. 18 seconds later, FGCU’s Zach Johnson drew a foul and made a pair of free throws to put the Eagles back in front, 38-37.
KSU would not retake the lead for the remainder of the game.
Trailing 42-41 following a Ray jump shot, the Owls surrendered a 10-0 run over a three-minute span, increasing their deficit to 52-41 at the 14:52 mark.
Three straight free throws pulled KSU within 52-44 with 12:15 to go, but FGCU answered with a couple of free throws from Rayjon Tucker and a Johnson dunk off of a turnover to extend its lead to 56-44. The Owls’ final comeback attempt of the game came via an 8-2 run, cutting the Eagles’ lead to 58-52 with 9:16 left.
Between the third and final media timeouts in the second half, FGCU put the game on ice with a 14-5 run, capped by a Christian Terrell three-pointer to put the Eagles up 72-57 with 3:26 to go.
FGCU scored the first points of the game, but the Owls responded with six unanswered and led 6-2 with 18:04 left to play in the opening half. Tied 12-12, the Eagles used a 10-3 run to open up a 22-15 lead with 10:06 left — the largest lead for either squad in the first half.
Down by six points with 3:33 left in the first half, the Owls used a 7-0 run to take a 32-31 lead with 2:00 to go. The run was capped by a Brown three-pointer, and, following a layup and free throw from FGCU, it was Brown’s layup that tied the game 34-34 with 36 seconds remaining.
FGCU’s Antravious Simmons drew a foul with 3 seconds to go in the first half and went 2-2 from the line to give the Eagles a 36-34 lead at the half.
“Overall, we had a great season and we were competitive,” Skinner said. “People had to play well in order to be successful. It’s tough to end the season the way we did, but overall the effort was there and we were just a little bit out of sync. Hopefully the job that the kids did this year will establish the way we like to play and the things we like to do.”
The Owls finished the season 11-20, marking the most wins since the 2009-10 campaign. Additionally, they posted a 7-7 record in A-Sun Conference play — marking the first .500 conference record since the 2006-07 season.