Florida Gulf Coast Eagles guard Brett Comer (0) celebrates after defeating the Georgetown Hoyas during the second round of the 2013 NCAA tournament at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia. Florida Gulf Coast defeated Georgetown 78-68. Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports
PHILADELPHIA -- Florida Gulf Coast has only been a Division I program for two years.
The way they played on Friday night against Georgetown in the second round of the NCAA Tournament, it felt more like it was the Hoyas' introduction to March Madness rather than the Eagles' first time at the Dance.
The Eagles pulled off the biggest upset of the tournament so far, knocking off the Hoyas 78-68 in front of a packed house at Wells Fargo Center.
Sherrod Brown's 3-pointer with 13:54 remaining pushed the FGCU lead to 46-33 and that lead would grow to 19 with 12:30 remaining on a Chase Fieler alley-oop slam. They would continue to hold a double-digit advantage until an Otto Porter 3-pointer with 2:50 remaining got Georgetown within nine at 64-55.
The exclamation point came exactly one minute later, when Brett Comer found Fieler on a broken play for a one-handed alley-oop slam that had everybody -- including the broadcast crew -- out of their seats. Fieler, a 6-foot-8 junior forward, had a number of impressive highlight dunks as part of his nine points and seven rebounds.
Georgetown wasn't totally finished, however. Markel Starks hit 3-pointers on back-to-back possessions to cut the deficit to 72-68 with under a minute to play. FGCU did what it needed to, however, hitting 10 of 12 free throws in the final 76 seconds to seal the victory.
Brown finished with 24 points on 6 of 13 from the floor while Bernard Thompson added 23 and Comer 12 for the Eagles
FGCU benefited from 33 team fouls against Georgetown that allowed the Eagles to get to the free-throw line 44 times, making 30. Conversely, FGCU committed just 18 fouls as the Hoyas went 13 of 20 from the stripe.
The Eagles became just the seventh 15-seed in NCAA history -- but the third in the past two years -- to pull off the upset after Norfolk State (over Missouri) and Lehigh (over Duke) both did so last season.
Florida Gulf Coast certainly played confident and poised from the outset, hanging with Georgetown the entire opening 20 minutes to take a 24-22 lead into the break.
Georgetown led by as many as seven midway through the period, but that advantage was short-lived, as FGCU closed out the half on a 13-4 run to take that two-point advantage into the break.
That FGCU even made the NCAA Tournament was somewhat surprising considering it was just the school's second full year as a Division I postseason-eligible member after joining the Atlantic Sun Conference in 2007. They've made the A-Sun title game in each of those two seasons, losing to Belmont last season before downing Mercer this season to lock up their first March Madness berth.
The Eagles already had one marquee win on the resume, a 63-51 decision over Miami (Fla.) back on Nov. 13. They played one of the tougher nonconference slates in the country, with losses to Virginia Commonwealth, St. John's, Iowa State and Duke helping to prepare them for the likes of 2nd-seeded Georgetown.
Clearly, that work paid off when it mattered most.
FGCU will play the winner of Oklahoma/San Diego State in the third round on Sunday.
NOTES: FGCU hasn't trailed at the half for 21 consecutive games, a streak that dates back to Dec. 31, when they trailed 36-35 to Kennesaw State. ... Brown is the first player in FGCU history with 1,000 points and 500 rebounds. ... The Hoyas entered the game as the fourth-best defensive team in the country, allowing only 0.84 points per possession according to KenPom.