Great second half leads women’s basketball No. 20 past Stetson, 82-67, in ASUN semifinals
FORT MYERS, Florida. – A 54-point second half led the No. 20 FGCU women’s basketball team to an 82-67 win over Stetson on Wednesday night in the ASUN Championship Tournament semifinals at Alico Arena. The Eagles (28-2), top seed in the Eastern Division, will then make their 11and back-to-back appearance in Saturday night’s 7 p.m. ASUN Championship game against West Division top seed Jacksonville State at Alico Arena.
Stetson (20-12) entered the semifinals as the No. 3 seed in the Eastern Division and were the only team to defeat FGCU in the league during the regular season.
“Stetson started the game playing really well; they did a lot of smart things, got a lot of good shots and they were playing really good defense. In the second quarter we talked about making a run before halftime and we were able to cut their lead from 13 to 6 before half time. It made a big difference to how we felt at half time and we were able to get off to a good start in the second half,” said the head coach Karl Smesko. “We shot the ball exceptionally well in that second half and, as is often the case once you start taking shots, everyone is more excited about playing defense and the intensity increased there. We had a few saves and that allowed us to I give a lot of credit to Stetson – I think they are the team that have improved the most since the start of the year so far.”
The Eagles, who trailed by up to 13 points in the second quarter, exploded in the second half to take control of the game. After trailing 34-28 at the break, FGCU warmed up after intermission by hitting 11 of 17 from beyond the arc in the second half and were 18 of 26 (69.2%) overall. Four players scored nine or more points after halftime, trailing 12 from Kendall Vaporizer who hit four three-pointers.
In total, five different Eagles have scored in double figures, led by At Kierstan Bell double-double of 19 points and 11 rebounds. Emma List matched his season high with 14 points thanks to a career-best four hat-tricks. Tishara Morehouse scored 12 points while adding seven assists and Karli Seay had 13 points off the bench.
For Spray, his four three-pointers give him 458 for his career, which is fourth all-time in NCAA history. Bell’s double-double took his FGCU record to 24 in just 47 career games for the Greens and Blues.
Stetson was led by 18 points from Alyssa Hargrove and 17 points from Jamiya Turner. Tatiana Streun and Ayanna Dublin had 12 points and 10 points respectively to complete the top scorers.
The Hatters controlled the game early by taking a 21-13 lead after the first quarter. The Eagles managed to keep the second quarter close to trail by six at halftime.
Midway through the third, FGCU started to heat up. A Andrea Cecil triple sparked a 9-0 run that gave the Eagles their first lead of the night on a Morehouse layup with 3:53 to go. Spray’s second three of the game with 41 seconds left gave FGCU a 53-49 lead heading into fourth.
In the fourth, the Eagles hit six three-pointers to put the game away. Spray and Bell hit back-to-back triples to extend FGCU’s lead to nine at 7:45. Spray struck again nearly two minutes later to push the lead to 12, 69-57. It started a 15-for-4 run for the Eagles as Spray hit another triple, just like Kerstie Phils in the stretch. Another Morehouse layup with 4:34 to go extended the lead to 74-59. List and Morehouse each hit threes in the final minute to cap the win.
FGCU finished the night hitting 29 of 56 from the floor, including 15 of 35 from deep. The Hatters shot nearly 50 percent from the floor, but only hit 3 of 8 from beyond the arc. The Eagles managed to convert 19 Stetson turnovers into 22 points while giving up just 10 points on 17 errors by the FGCU.
Les Verts et Bleus will play their ninth ASUN championship and their sixth in a row. The winner will earn automatic league berth for the NCAA Tournament. Earlier this season, FGCU defeated Jacksonville State, 66-44, in Jacksonville, Alabama, in the first game with Bell out of the lineup due to injury. The Gamecocks reached the ASUN Championship Game by defeating Liberty on Wednesday night with a buzzer-beating layup to win 59-57. This will be JSU’s first ASUN Championship appearance since 1999.
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SUPPORT THE WOMEN’S BASKETBALL PROGRAM
Do you enjoy watching or following the FGCU women’s basketball program? Would you like to play a role in the growth of the program and help it reach heights never reached before? If so, you can contact Director of Advancement, Matt Ring, to learn about opportunities to impact the experiences of our student-athletes. He can be contacted by email at [email protected] or by desk phone at 239-745-4434.
FGCU Head Coach Karl Smesko maintains a career record of 608-127 (.826) overall, which is the third-highest winning percentage among active Division I coaches behind only UConn’s Geno Auriemma and LSU’s Kim Mulkey. He also led the Eagles to a 232-18 (.930) ASUN regular season record and 29-2 (.935) ASUN tournament record. In the previous 10 seasons, he guided FGCU to a 153-5 (.968) conference record with six undefeated seasons. The 12-time ASUN Coach of the Year has led the program to 12 straight 25-win seasons and 18 straight 20-win campaigns, including more than 30 wins in four of the last seven years. On top of all that, the Eagles are 547-100 (.845) since Smesko started the program in the 2002-03 season, and the Greens and Blues’ all-time winning percentage of .845 is the best in NCAA Division I. the history of women’s basketball.
FGCU Athletics sponsors events in November and April to benefit the FGCU Campus Food Pantry (www.fgcu.edu/foodpantry) and the Harry Chapin Food Bank (www.harrychapinfoodbank.org), FGCU Athletics Charities of Choice. For more information, including how to make a contribution, please visit www.fgcu.edu/adminservices/foodpantry and use the hashtag #FeedFGCU to help raise awareness.
ABOUT THE FGCU
FGCU teams have combined to win an incredible 87 conference regular season and tournament titles in just 14+ seasons at the Division I level. Additionally, in just nine seasons of DI playoff eligibility, the Eagles have brought together 43 teams or individuals competing in NCAA championships. Eight FGCU programs ranked in the top 25 nationally in their respective sports, including women’s basketball (#20, 2021-22), beach volleyball (#20, 2021) and men’s soccer (2018, 2019) and women’s football. (2018) as three of the most recent. In 2016-17, the Vert et Bleu posted the department’s best sixth place finish in the DI-AAA Learfield Directors’ Cup and top 100 nationally, ahead of several Power-5 and FBS institutions. In 2018-19, the Eagles had an ASUN and Florida State’s top seven teams won the NCAA Public Recognition Award for their rate of academic progression in their sport. FGCU also collectively achieved a record 3.50 classroom GPA in the fall 2020 semester and outperformed the general undergraduate college population for 25 consecutive semesters. The Fall 2019, Spring 2020, Fall 2020, Spring 2021, and Fall 2021 semesters each saw another milestone achieved, with all 15 programs achieving a team GPA of 3.0 or higher in each . The Eagles also served an all-time high of 7,200 volunteer hours in 2017 – being recognized as one of two finalists for the inaugural NACDA Community Service Award presented by the Fiesta Bowl.