NICEVILLE, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) Number One goes down in round one.
Gulf Coast beats top ranked Florida Southwestern in State opener
Making its first appearance at the FCSAA Tournament since 2009, the Gulf Coast men's basketball team, knocked off the nation and state's top ranked team, Florida Southwestern, 75-68 in the quarterfinals.
The Commodores matched the Buccaneers shot for shot and stop for stop in the first half, keeping the game to one possession and trailing by 29-26 heading to the locker room.
Spurred by monster dunks by Moe Gordon and clutch three point shooting by Cam Holden, Jacolbey Owens, and Jamie Pierre Louis, GCSC took the lead midway through second half and held it the rest of the way.
Cam Holden led the way with 15 points and 5 rebounds. Gordon added 11 points, as did Owens.
"This is a Panhandle level team," acting coach Scott Jackson said. "When you have that kind of talent, you grind it out all the time. You know they fit right in. I did think that us being in the Panhandle and going through the Panhandle season prepared us for things like this because, it's such a hard conference. The fact that we've had to grind out the last two or three games and, it was like a playoff situation, I think prepared us for this today. This team hadn't to see a defense like ours all year."
Jackson continues to man the bench while head coach Phil Gaffney recovers from a heart attack suffered in January. After the win, the team broke a huddle with "Gaffney on three," dedicating another result to the man they hope to have back if they make the national tournament.
"We have to keep winning and winning and winning," Jackson added. "If we get to Hutch [Hutchinson, Kansas, site of the National Tournament], then there's a possibility of Coach Gaffney coming back. So that's the most important thing that they're thinking about right now and it brings a smile to my face because I know that's what they want."
No stranger to being the underdog, they'll be one again Friday at 1 p.m. against No. 3 seed Central Florida, ranked No. 19 in the nation.
"That's something that motivates us to win," sophomore guard Moe Gordon admitted. "I think when we were ranked, we kind of took it as a slight. But when we're not ranked, we play a lot harder. We beat the top dogs to show that we are the top dogs."
In addition to Wednesday's win over No. 1, the Commodores have also beaten No. 3 Indian Hills, Tallahassee while ranked No. 9 and 10, and two other teams ranked in the top 25.
The women's tournament tips off Thursday in Niceville, as Gulf Coast takes on Florida Southwestern at 3 and host Northwest Florida follows against Eastern Florida at 6.
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