FGCU (2-5) got another much needed confidence boost, beating Florida Tech (2-4) by a score of 73-59. The onslaught started early as the Eagles jumped out to a 13-2 lead. The Panthers managed to hang around all night though. They were led by Sesan Russell who finished with 23 points. The Eagles led by 19 at two different points in the game but never really ran away with it. Regardless, this young squad took advantage of their opportunity to play against a D-II team. We saw growth as well as continued flashes of what this team will look like in the future. Below, we will discuss some of the positives from the win and look forward to our next slate of games.
Rivers rebounded in a big way against Florida Tech. Coming off a career high scoring output (13) versus FAU, he struggled at VCU (4). Against Florida Tech, Rivers scored a new career high of points 18 points to go along with an impressive 5 blocks. He has really come on strong and continues to find more footing each game. Of course it is early, but Rivers looks to be quite a find for Coach Michael Fly. Assuming his success and growth continue, he is a real candidate for Freshman of the Year honors.
Gagliardi’s early season struggles are long gone. He went 6/10 from deep, totaling 18 points and 3 rebounds. Over the last 4 games, he is shooting 50% (14/28) from behind the arc. Comparatively, in the first 3 games, he shot only 21% (3/14). At this point it looks like Gagliardi has found his groove and is as good as advertised. With these abilities and increased confidence, he is a threat to go off any game.
Fans, coaches, players, and the man himself have waited quite a while to see Malik Hardy suit up and play for the Eagles. After dealing with an injury to start the season, it was a welcome sight to see him finally check into a game with 13:37 left to go in the 1st half. He played only 13 minutes but was mostly efficient. He shot 2/3 from the field and 1/1 from 3 for a total of 5 points, 1 steal, and 1 rebound. He did rack up 3 turnovers but this can be excused for a brief period as he finds his role on the team.
Justus Rainwater / Team Rebounding
FGCU won the rebounding battle for only the 2nd time this year. Justus Rainwater continued to lead the charge in this area, securing 12 boards in only 19 minutes of action. 6 of those came on the offensive end, allowing for some second chance opportunities. On the season, Rainwater is averaging 7 rebounds per contest.
Qwanzi Samuels added 5 rebounds as well. This is something he has struggled with thus far so it is nice to see him have success. Zach Scott and Jalen Warren each had 5 rebounds, as the Eagles continue to get solid performances from their guards in this area.
Jalen Warren / Assist:Turnover Ratio
FGCU has struggled with turning the ball over in bunches this season. Last game, against VCU, the turnover frenzy lasted the entire game. Against Florida Tech, the Eagles were finally on the opposite end of this problem. They committed only 12 turnovers in the game, compared to 17 by the opponent. A major player in this outcome was Jalen Warren. Coming off the bench for the third straight game, he was very efficient. Warren finished the night with 7 points, 5 rebounds, and a very impressive 7:1 assist to turnover ratio. Senior Tracy Hector Jr seems to provide a boost to a different stat category every night. Against Florida Tech, his shot was not falling but he finished the game with 5 assists to only 1 turnover.
FGCU looks to string together a few more 1-game winning streaks as they continue their homestand with 3 more games at Alico Arena over the weekend. The Eagles are set to take on North Dakota, Campbell, and Georgia Southern. They will play 3 straight days starting Friday 11/29 and ending Sunday 12/1. Get your Black Friday shopping done early and make it out to the games. With a good showing in the tournament, this season can turn around real quick. Let’s fill the nest, FGCU fans!