The slump finally ended when Sherwood Brown, the Eagles' dreadlocked senior showman, made a layup in the final minute to trim the Gators' lead to 30-26 at halftime.
FGCU heads back to Fort Myers (aka Dunk City), where it has man-made lakes and a beach on campus, having given the tournament a blast of fresh air while its players were just having a blast. The South Florida state school also got about the best free publicity its administrators could ever hope for.
"It was great to see the excitement across the country with the underdog and it's just a real feeling when you're the underdog and you're the talk of the nation," coach Andy Enfield said. "Our plan wasn't to become some great national story. Our plan was to go in and compete and win games. It was unbelievable to see the excitement and passion of not only our local community, the students, but also the national level.
"Our players believed, and they accomplished something special."
Florida (29-7) is going to its third straight NCAA regional final after holding the Eagles to a season low-matching 50 points.
The Gators will play Michigan in the South Regional final at Cowboys Stadium on Sunday. They are trying to get to their first NCAA Final Four since consecutive national championships in 2006 and 2007.
FGCU players walked down the steps of the raised court at the break with their heads down, much different from the team that looked so loose and ready for a good time after the early run so similar to extended spurts they had in upsetting No. 2 seed Georgetown and No. 7 seed San Diego State.
After the Gators turned up the defensive pressure, the most fun team this side of the Harlem Globetrotters was suddenly having a lot fewer laughs. Those spectacular dunks and alley-oops weren't there and Florida forced 20 turnovers.