PHILADELPHIA - Bernard Thompson and Florida Gulf Coast continue to make history. Thompson had 23 points to lead five players in double figures as the No. 15 seed Eagles defeated seventh-seeded San Diego State, 81-71 in the third round of the South Region.
Gulf Coast (26-10) became the first No. 15 seed to reach the Sweet 16 and will play third-seeded Florida Friday in Arlington, Texas.
Thompson, a 2011 Rockdale graduate, not only led the way offensively, scoring 10 points in the first half and 13 in the second on 9-of-15 shooting from the field, but he displayed his trademark excellent defense. Thompson, who was named the Atlantic Sun Conference defensive player of the year and who came into the game averaging 2.7 steals per game (fourth-best nationally), often times guarded San Diego State’s top scorer, Jamaal Franklin. Though Franklin led San Diego State (23-11) with 20 points, Thompson was a big reason the junior guard scored just seven points over the final 15 minutes of the game.
San Diego State had gotten to within 54-52 on a field goal by Xavier Thames with 11:34 to play in the game, but it was all Gulf Coast after that. Atlantic Sun player of the year Sherwood Brown, who had been on the bench with three fouls for most of the second half, returned to the court and immediately the Fort Myers, Florida school began a huge run. Starting with Brown's free throw at the 9:55 mark, Gulf Coast scored 17 consecutive points-five of the points came from Thompson-and led 71-52 with just over four minutes left.
Point guard Brett Comer had a career-high 14 assists for head coach Andy Enfield, who along with Thompson has perhaps the most unheralded back court of the teams remaining in the NCAA Tournament, but also one of the best.
"When you have Brett Comer and Bernard Thompson in your back court you’re pretty good,” Enfield told TBS Sports.