The FIU men’s soccer team, champions of Conference USA, will play its first NCAA tournament game in 11 years on Thursday at the home of former C-USA member Tulsa.
A win Thursday against Tulsa sends FIU into the second round Sunday against Notre Dame, the tournament’s No. 7 seed.
Despite having the nation’s No. 16 RPI and a title from one of the nation’s strongest conferences, FIU (12-6-1) didn’t receive one of the 16 tournament seeds.
None of the three other C-USA schools in the tournament — No. 11 Kentucky, No. 17 South Carolina and No. 24 Charlotte – did either.
As for if he thought FIU would get a seed, FIU coach Scott Calabrese said: “I think we’re very close. If you look at the RPI, we were one of the teams right on the bubble to be seeded. It doesn’t surprise me we didn’t get seeded. Had we been the 16th seed, I also thought that was possible.”
FIU athletic director Pete Garcia said Monday that Calabrese, C-USA’s co-Coach of the Year who is in the second of a three-year deal, would get an extension.
David J. Neal
▪ Nova Southeastern 84, St. Thomas 80: The Sharks won their season opener behind 43 combined points from returnees Chris Page and Harrison Goodrick, holding off the Bobcats at the end.
Page scored 17 of his 28 points in the first half (17 in 11 minutes and 28 total in just 23 minutes), and Goodrick came through with 15, a team-high six rebounds, four assists and three steals. Though the veterans filled the stat sheet, oftentimes, it was the Shark newcomers that propelled the team.
Midway through the second half was the 10th and final tie of the game, 56-56, with 10:45 left. After a Goodrick layup, true freshman Austin Marciniak hit back-to-back three-pointers to give the team what was at that point its biggest lead at 64-56. Late in the game, after St. Thomas had cut it to two (80-78), sophomore transfer BJ Edwards made 4 of 6 at the free-throw line in the final 15 seconds to seal the win.
Nova Southeastern guard Monaye Merritt earned the first Sunshine State Conference women’s basketball Defensive Player of the Week, as released by the league office.
Merritt was a key defender in each of NSU’s wins over their opening weekend. Against North Alabama, the Shark senior had seven rebounds and two steals, while leading a defense that held the Lions to 34 percent shooting and forced 18 turnovers in a 41-point rout, 102-61.
In a much tighter game Saturday, when it mattered most, Merritt was the point person against Lee, hounding the Flames to just 4-of-16 shooting in the fourth quarter, matching her career high with three blocked shots and adding two more steals. NSU forced Lee into 18 turnovers in that game in what turned out to be an 81-68 win.