In a game that most believed they had no business being in, FGCU fought with USC for the better part of 40 minutes. The Eagles jumped out to a 7-1 lead but that was quicky followed by a familiar run from the opposing team. Still, FGCU continued to battle through foul trouble and remained in the game until the final stretch. Even in a loss, this was one of the better games for the Eagles this season, especially considering that it came against a strong PAC 12 team. Below, we will highlight the good and bad from the game as well as what’s on the horizon for the Eagles.
Catto scored nine points in the first half. He was held without a bucket in the second half but managed to help out in other ways. By the end of the game, he totalled 7 assists and 5 steals. Once again, Catto took another step forward as the leader of this team by having an insanely well-rounded game.
Largie has been a surprise contributor in nonconference play. He made the first start of his career against USC and played a solid game. He continues to impress with his energy and toughness. He finished with 6 points, 3 steals, 2 assists, and 4 rebounds.
Gagliardi made his return after missing 2 games. He suffered a concussion and a deep cut on his face after diving for a loose ball against Robert Morris. As a result, he sported a face mask in his first game back. He was streaky from 3, especially in the first half but still led the team with 10 points. It was good to see Savage Sam out there again and starting.
Thomas continued to work himself back into rotation as we look to conference play. In his 3rd game back from injury, he saw action early as Dakota Rivers and Justus Rainwater both got into foul trouble. Thomas had a tough time scoring but made up for it with 8 rebounds and 3 assists in only 17 minutes.
The defense tonight was stifling at times. FGCU was able to hold USC to 5 points under their scoring average coming into the game. The Eagles forced 18 turnovers and acquired 14 steals. Additionally, they managed to keep the rebounding battle very close (37-32) against a team that normally gets almost 50 per game.
Free Throws / Fouls
Free throws were a major problem for the Eagles in the game. They got to the line for only 6 attempts and converted only 1 of them (17%). Furthermore, USC got to the line 23 times and took advantage by sinking 16 of them (70%). Considering that the game was decided by 13 points, more free throws and a higher conversion would have benefited FGCU greatly.
Again the Eagles struggled with turnovers. For the game they committed 19 of them. If it weren’t for good defense forcing 18 USC turnovers, the game would have been extremely lopsided. The hope here is that in conference play, this area is cleaned up significantly and these turnover-laden performances are simply a result of an extremely tough nonconference schedule.
With this tough battle against USC, FGCU wrapped up the nonconference portion of the season. The Eagles open up conference play with what will be a tough matchup against Liberty. Liberty is clearly the class of the ASUN this year. FGCU will look to use the transition into conference play as a chance for a clean slate. The game will take place at home in Alico Arena on 1/2/20.