FGCU (4-13, 1-1) defeated Lipscomb (6-9, 1-1) 68-61 in front of a loud croud at Alico Arena. They led the game from start to finish, which is something that they have not done so far this season against a D-I team. FGCU started this contest as hot as any game in recent memory. The Eagles went up 8-0 after 2 3-pointers from Sam Gagliardi and a 2-point finish from Justus Rainwater. The onslaught continued as FGCU expanded its lead to 19-4 after the opening 5 minutes. The hot shooting cooled off a bit and Lipscomb found their shot to some extent. Ahsan Asadullah carried the Bisons through the 1st half with 12 points. FGCU still held a 38-27 lead going into halftime.
In the 2nd half, the Eagles managed to keep the lead around 10 points. Lipscomb battled back on the shoulders of Asadullah and Andrew Flemming as they narrowed the deficit to 6 points (65-59) with about 2 minutes remaining. This inexperienced flock of Eagles took several steps in the right direction in these last 2 minutes. They made mistakes, made clutch decisions, and ultimately came out on top. Below, we will highlight the good and bad from the victory and discuss what’s next for FGCU.
After missing 2 games, Gagliardi has now scored in double figures in 3 straight. He came close to doing this in just over two minutes against Lipscomb with 9 points. He finished the game with a team high 14 in only 18 minutes, due to foul trouble. Gagliardi has definitely found his groove and the Eagles should be riding this as long as they can.
After a disappointing showing against Liberty, Catto bounced back with an efficient game. He finished with 13 points, 2 rebounds, an assist, and a steal. He was 5/6 shooting and 2/2 from 3. He also committed no turnovers in a game where the team racked up 20 of them.
Zach Scott has come off the bench now in 3 straight games. Coach Michael Fly has stated this decision is in an effort to get him going and break out of the slump he has been struggling through for some time. Up to this game, the approach hadn’t worked. Against Lipscomb though, Scott finally got a back to form. He scored 12 points off the bench on 4/9 shooting. He also secured 7 rebounds, 2 assists, and 2 steals.
As of late, FGCU has rebounded the ball much better. Against the Bisons, the Eagles won the rebounding battle 36-31. The biggest positive to take away from this is how well they secured rebounds as a team. 4 players had 5 or more rebounds. Tracy Hector Jr, Brian Thomas, Justus Rainwater, and Zach Scott all came through with clutch boards. Inversely, over 50% of Lipscomb’s rebounds came from 2 players.
The dead horse named Turnovers continues to be beaten, even in a great win. FGCU committed 20 of them against Lipscomb. With the hot shooting and fairly good defensive showing that the Eagles put on, this should have be a game where FGCU coasted to a double digit victory. The mass of turnovers allowed Lipscomb to hang around and make it a nerve-wracking final 2 minutes until FGCU was finally able to put it away.
Asadullah is already a force to be reckoned with, as a sophomore. It is clear that he is on pace to be one of the best players in the conference. Justus Rainwater was tasked with guarding him and did so with mixed results. Rainwater never really played bad defense against him but Asadullah was still able to make tough shots. Brian Thomas had some of the same struggles against him. Even though the defense looked fairly good, he still managed to score 25 points to go along with 10 rebounds, 4 assists, 3 steals, and 2 blocks.
FGCU has a few days to practice and game plan before travelling to Jacksonville to play UNF. UNF is projected to finish 2nd in the conference behind Liberty. This will be a good test for the Eagles as they look to build a bit of a win streak going forward. A victory against UNF at their place would do wonders from a morale standpoint.