FGCU (6-14, 3-2) made a statement by dominating an entire game of basketball against Kennesaw State (1-16, 0-4). The Eagles started the game with a 5-1 lead. For almost the next 5 minutes, neither team would score until FGCU found their rhythm. The Eagles went into halftime with a 34-7 lead as they held the Owls to 4% (1/25) shooting in the opening period. In the second half, they extended the lead to 39 points with just under 10 minutes remaining in the game. At that point it was time for Coach Fly to give some of the younger guys minutes. Unfortunately the youth-centered lineup struggled against the press and the lead dwindled ever so slightly, but FGCU still managed to win 73-51. Below, we highlight the good, the bad, and notable performances from the game as well as take a brief look forward to what’s next for the Eagles!
With some smothering team defense and a little bit of luck, FGCU held Kennesaw to historically low 1st half shooting numbers. At 1/25 the Owls shot only 4% in the opening stanza. The 1 bucket ties for fewest in a half by any NCAA team in history. As for shooting percentage and points scored in a half, this performance was right up (down?) there with the lowest totals of all-time. For the game, Kennesaw shot only 21%. FGCU also limited them to only 5 assists while forcing 14 turnovers. It was also a block party for the Eagles as they swatted away 10 shots in the contest. Freshman Dakota Rivers spearheaded this with 5 big blocks of his own.
In a game like this, everybody got a piece of the pie. It wasn’t until less than 8 minutes left in the game that FGCU had a player in double figures. The Eagles had 9 players score 5 or more points in the game though, as the basketball was shared quite a bit. The ball was moving well for the majority of the game and it looked like everyone was a threat to score.
FGCU dominated the boards in this one. They won the overall battle 53-39. 6 players accumulated 5 or more rebounds. This is, in part, due to the abundance of missed shots by Kennesaw. Still, the Eagles matched the Owls’ offensive rebounding output (16) and ran away with it on the defensive end.
2nd Half Performance
To say that Kennesaw outscored the Eagles in the 2nd half is factual, but misleading. At one point in the 2nd, FGCU pushed their lead to 39 points. Such a disparity prompted Coach Fly to put in some of the younger guys to get them quality conference minutes. It was at this point when the lead started dwindling a bit. Still, the point margin was kept around 30 for most of this time. The younger players struggled mightily against the press and if not for playing good defense, the lead would have decreased even further.
After 2 fairly clean games against UNF and Stetson, FGCU turned the ball over 19 times versus the Owls. In some ways, this is misleading due to the increased minutes that younger players received. Still 9 turnovers occurred in the first half when, for the most part, starters remained on the court. The game looked cleaner in the second half until Kennesaw’s press gave the young Eagles fits.
Caleb Catto again led the Eagles in scoring with 11 points (4th straight game in double figures) on 5/8 shooting in only 23 minutes. He also added 4 rebounds, 3 assists, a steal and a block. Jalen Warren was the only starter to play his usual minutes (32). He came inches from a double-double with 9 points and 11 rebounds. Warren also showed why he is one of the top assisters in the ASUN, dishing out 5 of them in the game. Due to a lopsided score, Justus Rainwater got a lot of the night off. In only 16 minutes he tallied 9 points, 3 rebounds, and 2 blocks. In Rainwater’s absence, Dakota Rivers produced a solid performance with 5 points, 6 rebounds, and 5 blocks. Zach Scott has now score double digit points in 4 straight games as he dropped 10 against Kennesaw. He also continues to provide support in the rebounding game, nabbing 6 of them in this contest. Lastly, Cyrus Largie continues to be very efficient in his minutes. He played 20 of them, shooting 4/5 from the floor and scoring 9 points. He also managed 6 rebounds.
The Eagles are now 6-14 on the season and 3-2 in conference play. As of now, this slots FGCU in 3rd place with a lot of games left. Next up for the Eagles is University of North Alabama (UNA). The Lions are 7-11 overall and 2-3 in ASUN play. Most recently, they lost to Stetson 54-49. FGCU has won two straight for the first time this year and making it 3 straight would do wonders for this team as the conference season continues.