FORT MYERS, Fla. — Christophe Varidel came off the bench and scored a team-high 20 points, including five during a decisive run of eight unanswered points late in the game, and Florida Gulf Coast University went on to collect an 84-72 win over the University of Maine Black Bears Thursday night.
Florida Gulf Coast improved to 5-7, including 5-1 at its Alico Arena.
Six of the Eagles’ losses have come by six points or less, including one-point road losses at Texas Christian, Southern Methodist and Nebraska.
Maine fell to 6-5 after having its three-game winning streak snapped.
The Black Bears trailed 67-65, but then went 3:39 without a point beginning with two missed free throws by Justin Edwards.
Brett Comer’s free throw made it 68-65 with 4:43 left and Varidel’s two free throws after a Raheem Singleton foul and technical foul made it 70-65 with 4:06 remaining.
Kevin Cantinol’s layup extended the lead with 3:40 remaining and Varidel nailed a 3-pointer off a Comer pass to expand the lead to 75-65 with 2:44 left.
Gerald McLemore’s two free throws snapped Maine’s drought with 2:25 remaining, but the Bears missed three shots, Bernard Thompson grabbed the rebound and he was fouled.
Thompson hit both free throws to regain the 10-point lead with just 1:31 remaining, and Maine couldn’t get closer than eight the rest of the way.
“They were more aggressive than we were. They had great energy and did a great job creating the tempo,” said Maine coach Ted Woodward. “Their aggressive play got us into foul trouble. They were very physical. They’re an awfully good basketball team.”
“We’ve got to do a better job on the defensive end and in the paint. They generated a lot of second-chance points,” added Woodward.
Varidel had four rebounds and three assists to complement his 20 points.
Thompson finished with 15 points and nine rebounds, and Chase Fieler had 11 points, 11 rebounds, five assists and three steals.
Comer wound up with 10 points and a game-high seven assists along with three steals.
McLemore’s game-high 26 points paced the Black Bears. He also had three assists.
Singleton was the only other Maine player in double figures as he came off the bench and scored 12 points. He also led the Bears with four assists.
Alasdair Fraser, who was in foul trouble and eventually fouled out, had eight points and five rebounds. He had been averaging 13.5 points and 7.9 rebounds.
Mike Allison had a game-high eight rebounds but scored just two points in 31 minutes.
Freshman standout Edwards, who entered the game averaging 17.3 points per game, was held to four points on 2-for-8 shooting from the floor.
Kilian Cato contributed eight points and four rebounds off the bench. He also fouled out as the Bears were whistled for 30 fouls compared to the hosts’ 16.
Florida Gulf Coast outscored Maine 30-11 from the foul line.
FGCU shot 46.9 percent from the floor compared to Maine’s 39.7 percent and was 30-for-37 from the foul line compared to Maine’s 11-for-20.
FGCU outrebounded Maine 41-33.