Varidel capped an amazing run by the Eagles (9-19, 6-12 A-Sun) shooters, who hit their final five 3-pointers, and answered JU’s comeback.
The game-winner topped Keith McDougald’s 3-pointer with 9.2 seconds left that looked like it was going to make him the hero for JU (19-9, 13-6 A-Sun) again.
“We didn’t do a very good job on the boards and gave them too many second chances,” said JU head coach Cliff Warren.
FGCU held a 44-27 edge on the glass, with 19 offensive rebounds that turned into 17 second chance points – normally an area of strength for JU this season.
While Varidel’s heroics won the game, three Eagles finished in double figures with Sherwood Brown had 18 points, Kevin Cantinol added 12 and Anthony Banks had 11.
Leading by three at the half, FGCU scored the first six points of the second half to take a 33-24 lead with 15:28 left in the game.
Over the next six minutes, JU went on a 13-0 run to take its first lead of the second half, 37-33, capping the run with a Tevin Galvin putback with 9:42 left in the game.
The Eagles answered with 12 straight over the next three minutes, with Brown hitting back-to-back 3-pointers to cap the spurt as FGCU went ahead 45-37 with 6:38 remaining.
JU scored the next eight points to tie the game at 45, before falling behind by three on Varidel’s first 3-pointer of the game with 4:34 left in regulation.
FGCU built the lead back to four, 51-47, but McDougald’s 3-pointer with 9.2 seconds left gave the Dolphins a 55-53 lead – capping an 8-2 run that looked like it would seal the game.
Ayron Hardy led JU with 12 points while Delwan Graham had 10 points and six rebounds.
The Dolphins wrap up their regular season on Saturday at Stetson. Tipoff is set for 7 p.m.