Florida Gulf Coast upsets Mercer to advance to A-Sun title game

sports@macon.comMarch 2, 2012 

Florida Gulf Coast made several clutch free throws in the final seconds to shock second-seeded Mercer 62-58 Friday in the A-Sun tournament semifinals.

Christophe Varidel made two free throws with two seconds left to seal the victory for the Eagles. Florida Gulf Coast (15-16) will play top-seed Belmont at 7 p.m. Saturday with an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament on the line. The Eagles have beaten two 20-win teams in a row -- USC-Upstate in the quarterfinals and Mercer in the semifinals.

Sherwood Brown led Florida Gulf Coast with 14 points. Jake Gollon led Mercer with 17 points, while Langston Hall added 16.

Mercer (22-11) led by as many as nine in the second half, but the Bears fell behind on a pair of free throws by Brown with 35 seconds to play. Travis Smith had the chance to tie the game for Mercer, but he missed the second free throw. Bernard Thompson pushed the Florida Gulf Coast lead back to two points with 10 seconds left.

Gollon went to the line with 2.9 seconds left to play, but he missed the first free throw and was called for a lane violation when he intentionally missed the second. Varidel made both free throws following a Mercer foul.

The announced attendance was 3,497, which is 109% capacity for the University Center. The attendance ties the mark set a week ago when Belmont beat Mercer in the regular season finale.

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