PHILADELPHIA — Brett Comer barely had enough time to check his rearview mirror.
He scooped up the outlet pass off the bounce, looked up, and made a quick move to the rim.
But he was running out of room and he knew it.
The baseline was approaching like a cliff and the Big East Player of the Year, Otto Porter Jr., was coming at him like a human flyswatter.
Truth be told, Comer said, he was barely sure of his own whereabouts.
“I kind of knew where I was,” Comer said. “I saw Otto Porter coming. I knew he was going to try to contest my shot.”
He could see what Porter couldn’t, though.
From the other side of the court, Chase Feiler was parachuting in.
“I saw him out of the corner of my eye,” Comer said.
Comer led the Atlantic Sun Conference in assists, and coming into Florida Gulf Coast’s NCAA Tournament debut against Georgetown Friday, he had assisted on 55 of the Eagles’ 134 dunks this season.
On a hunch, Comer sent the ball high above the rim.
“My instincts just knew where he was,” Comer said.
Not even his coach, Andy Enfield, knew where it was going.
“I thought the ball was coming to me,” Enfield said. “I was like, ‘Where is that going?’ ”
When he saw Comer connect with Feiler for a loud alley-oop that put FGCU up, 67-58, over the Hoyas and officially blew the doors open in the Eagles’ 78-68 win, he expected nothing less.
“I’ve got some crazy dudes on my team,” Enfield said. “Brett Comer, I don’t know where the ball’s going half the time and then it usually winds up in a guy’s hand and he’s either dunking or laying it in. I’m like, ‘Great pass, Brett!’ ”
After spending the first half grappling with a nasty, physical Georgetown team, FGCU finally played the 0-to-60 basketball that got the Eagles to the NCAA Tournament and ultimately ran the Hoyas out of the Wells Fargo Center.
Sherwood Brown (24 points) and Bernard Thompson (23) each drained three 3-pointers. Comer finished with a 12-point, 10-assist double-double. The Eagles shot 57 percent in the second half.
“That’s our style of play,” Comer said. “We run the court a lot, so we have a lot of three-on-twos, two-on-ones where there’s a lot of lobs. We’re so athletic where we have a lot of opportunities for that.”
The win was layered with history.
By bouncing the Big East regular-season co-champions, FGCU became the seventh 15-seed to beat a 2-seed, and third in two years.
Unlike most of the others, though, there was no nail-biting. The Eagles led by as many as 19 points in the second half. The worst loss a 15-seed has ever handed a 2-seed was the 78-65 beating Coppin State dealt South Carolina in 1997.
But coming in, Enfield said he threw seeds and rankings out the window.
“I told our team before the game that Georgetown was ranked eighth in the country, but after you get out on the court for two or three minutes, you’re going to realize that you’re just as good if not better than this team,” Enfield said.
With the best offense in the A-Sun (73.1 points per game), FGCU is known for spreading the floor, attacking the rim, and blowing the bulbs out of scoreboards. Georgetown’s reputation couldn’t have been more opposite. The Hoyas won by putting opponents in comas, holding teams to 55.7 points a night, second in the Big East.
The Eagles went into halftime ahead, 24-22, seeing the kind of grueling game the Hoyas wanted to play, and raising them.
They drew lines in the paint and on the glass and turned it into a turf war, scoring 12 points in the lane (to Georgetown’s 10) and snatching 24 boards (to Georgetown’s 22). They made it impossible for Porter, the Hoyas’ leading scorer, to get even remotely comfortable. Five of his first seven shots were misfires.
After the break the Eagles (25-10) mashed the pedal, going on a 21-2 run.
“We played Georgetown’s style in the first half,” Enfield said. “They made us play their style. So at halftime, I said, ‘Fellas, we have to play our style. We’re going to push the ball — made shots and missed shots — get the ball in transition, run the floor.’ ”
Shooting 26 percent from deep and 37 percent overall, the Hoyas (25-7) couldn’t keep up.
Coach John Thompson III saw it coming. He refused to buy into the unassuming underdog story line.
Watching film, he knew the Eagles were as good as any team in the Big East.
“Because of the world we live in, you start putting seeds and rankings,” Thompson said. “But when you watch them on tape, this group . . . they’re athletic. They’re big and athletic. It’s not a small team. They played very well today.”
This was a movie he had seen before.
The Hoyas had been bounced by a double-digit seed in each of their previous four tournament appearances. Florida Gulf Coast made it five straight, and after another early exit Thompson struggled to find answers.
“I wish I could,” he said. “Trust me. More than anyone on this earth, I’ve tried to analyze it, think about it, look at it, think about what we should do differently. And I don’t know.”
It was the first tournament victory for an Atlantic Sun team since Georgia State won as an 11-seed in 2001.
The FGCU program has only been in existence for six seasons, and this was just the Eagles’ second season being eligible for the tournament.
The magnitude of the win was obvious for a program that had been so anonymous people confused it with Gulf Coast Community College eight hours away in Panama City.
“I could say that honestly not too many people in this arena or any of you guys [in the media] knew who we were before this tournament,” Comer said. “Nobody knew who we were. Everybody thought of us as a write-off, like, ‘Aw, Georgetown’s going to the next round.’ ”
Comer had done his research, though.
“Georgetown’s a very good team, they’re well-coached, but they’re a team that usually gets upset,” he said. “I was aware that they got upset a lot. Last year, they actually beat the team that won our conference last year, Belmont. But before that, they’ve been bounced a lot.
“Even without that, we thought we could come in and win. We can play with anybody.”
Thompson couldn’t argue.
“If they play like they did today,” he said, “absolutely.”Julian Benbow can be reached at email@example.com.