FGCU Basketball: Eagle men bounce back with 71-59 win

Florida Gulf Coast University's men shook the hangover from Monday night's meltdown and a game bunch from Puerto Rico-Rio Piedras on Thursday night.

The Eagles, who blew a 14-point lead in the last 6:22 of Monday's home loss against Nova Southeastern, put away the Gallitos, 71-59, in front of a season-high crowd of 1,472 in Alico Arena.

It was Dave Balza's 75th win as FGCU's coach, and it was not one for the timid. The Eagles had a height advantage, but Rio Piedras sported a large-armed frontline and the Gallitos played with powerful aggression.

Senior forward Leon Woodstock (6-foot-5) was the story here. Woodstock flew the floor and bulled his way inside for a game-high 21 points and a team-high 12 rebounds and came up large at big times in 31 mostly rock-solid minutes.

"We obviously had an extreme advantage inside," Balza said.

The Eagles shot 48.1 percent from the field, held the Gallitos to 31.7 and outrebounded Rio Piedras 49-28.

The Gallitos, who made the trek from Valdosta State on Thursday, a day after losing their season opener (105-82) there, hung tough through much of this with salty defense and free throw-producing drives.

Arnaldo Lopez led Rio Piedras with 14 points.

The game, while not exactly a work of art, was sprayed with SportsCenter-worthy clips like Adam Liddell's steal and behind the back pass to a churning Woodstock, who finished the break with a two-hand slam (his second) for a 31-27 FGCU lead with 1:36 left in the first half.

And Woodstock's steal and feed to Yavney Neptune for a buzzer-beating lay-in for a 33-29 halftime lead.

A Woodstock power move opened the second half for 35-29, and after a Marcus Watts inside bucket and a Brandon Rooney jump-stop score, his lay-in of an alley-oop Beau Bauer pass gave FGCU a 41-29 cushion with 17:46 left.

Woodstock's inside basket made it 47-33 and his three-point play pushed the lead to 50-33 with 12:43 remaining as the Eagles finally flew past the Gallitos.

"We had too many turnovers," Balza said. "But when we took care of the ball, we did a good job of getting it inside."

The Eagles play Saturday at Valdosta State. Tip-off is at 6 p.m.

FGCU 71; PR-RP 59

PUERTO RICO-RIO PIEDRAS (0-2) Alvarez 1-1 0-0 2, DeLeon 1-1 0-0 2, Diaz 1-2 2-2 5, Gill 2-12 1-2 6, Guzman 2-11 2-5 8, Lopez 5-13 0-1 14, Pellot 0-3 0-0 0, Pizarro 4-11 1-2 10, Reyes 2-5 2-2 6, Ruiz 0-0 0-0 0, Rundle 2-4 2-2 6. Totals 20-63 10-16 59.

FLORIDA GULF COAST (6-2) Liddell 4-9 0-0 8, Watts 4-5 2-2 10, Rooney 3-8 5-6 12, Bauer 2-4 1-2 5, Fritz 0-1 2-2 2, Wohlleb 1-2 0-0 2, Owens 0-0 0-0 0, Neptune 2-6 1-3 5, Anderson 0-0 0-0 0, Woodstock 8-15 5-5 21, Rollins 0-2 0-0 0, Oggero 0-0 0-0 0, Matos 0-0 0-0 0. Totals: 26-54 16-20 71.

Halftime-FGCU 33, PR-RP 29. 3-point goals-FGCU 3-14 (Woodstock 0-2, Rooney 1-5, Bauer 0-2, Neptune 0-1, Pean 1-1, Liddell 1-3). PR-RP 9-34 (Guzman 2-8, Lopez 4-8, Pizarro 1-4, Pellot 0-3, Diaz 1-2, Gill 1-9). Fouled out-None. Rebounds-FGCU 49 (Woodstock 12), PR-RP 28 (Gill 6). Assists-FGCU 13 (Bauer 4), PR-RP 14 (Lopez 4). Total fouls-FGCU 22, PR-B 21. A-1472

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