Johnson, Gilmore help FGCU beat North Florida 96-78

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) Zach Johnson scored 19 points and Michael Gilmore had his first career double-double to help Florida Gulf Coast win its eighth game in a row on Wednesday night, 96-87 over North Florida.

Gilmore finished with 14 points – 12 in the second half – and 11 rebounds, both career highs. Christian Carlyle added 17 points and Dinero Mercurius scored 16, including four 3-pointers for FGCU (15-8, 6-0 Atlantic Sun).

Mercurius’ first 3 made it 8-5 and the Eagles led the rest of the way. Gilmore hit a jumper to open the second half that pushed the lead to 55-41 but North Florida chipped away, trimming its deficit to three points on Trip Day’s layup with 8:20 remaining. Carlyle answered with a 3-point play and Johnson scored the final five points in an 8-2 spurt that made it 83-74 with seven minutes to go and FGCU held on from there.

JT Escobar had a career-high 28 points, including six of North Florida’s 16 3-pointers. Garrett Sams scored 20 points and Noah Horchler added 10 with 11 rebounds for the Ospreys (9-14, 3-3).

The school announced before the game that Brandon Goodwin, the unanimous preseason A-Sun player of the year, and Ricky Doyle would not play (coach’s decision) for FGCU, which won the 300th game in program history. The duo has started 34 combined games this season.