FGCU (7-19, 4-7) started the 2nd half of ASUN play with the tall task of facing the top 3 teams in the conference. They lost the first 2 (of 3) games to Liberty and Stetson. With a thrilling 69-60 loss to UNF (16-10, 9-2), the Eagles now have quite an uphill battle. The teams stayed close throughout, reaching a 13 point margin for a very short while. The contest featured scoring droughts as well scoring runs and bursts of offense. Ultimately, despite playing a clean, 11 turnover game, FGCU couldn’t take advantage of an uncharacteristically poor perimeter shooting percentage from the Ospreys in the first half, and could not keep pace with them in the end when their shots began to fall. Below we will take a look at some of the notable contributions, areas for improvement, and what’s on deck for the Eagles.
Jalen Warren continued his scoring outburst as he led the Eagles with 18 points on the night. Over the last 4 games, he hasn’t scored less that 14 points and has averaged about 18 points, 4 rebounds, and 4 assists. The first time these teams met, UNF left the mid-range shot wide open and FGCU couldn’t capitalize. This time, they came prepared, as getting Warren and Co. in for mid-range floaters was working very effectively for much of the game. Warren did this 3 times in the first 3 minutes. Still, it was once again a rough night of perimeter shooting for the Eagles. Caleb Catto went 1-6 from downtown and struggled his way to 11 points. He had a strong, 6 rebound performance to go along with 2 assists. Zach Scott hit his first 3-point attempt of the game but quickly fizzled out, going 1-7 from deep on the night. He still finished with a clutch 11 points, 2 rebounds, 2 assists, a steal, and made clutch plays down the stretch to keep the Eagles in the game. Justus Rainwater rounded out the last of 4 Eagles who would score double-digit points on the night. He scored 11 while nabbing 6 rebounds (4 offensive) and going 5-5 from the floor. Again, Tracy Hector Jr battled through pain to give a gutsy performance. He did not score but collected 5 rebounds, 5 assists, and 2 steals.
Areas for Improvement
For the 2nd straight game, the Eagles shot very poorly from beyond the arc. The team combined to shoot 2-17 from downtown (11.8%). Additionally, FGCU’s top 2 players (Scott and Catto) combined to go 2-13 (15%). Similar to last game, if the team made just a reasonable amount of their attempts, the outcome could have been very different.
By halftime, the Eagles managed to limit UNF to 4-17 (24%) from 3. Unfortunately, in the 2nd half, the Ospreys found their rhythm and went 6-11 from downtown. This prevented FGCU from sustaining their runs and fulfilling their comeback attempt. Every time the Eagles would pull ahead or get close, UNF hit a dagger 3 that visibly deflated the team.
FGCU’s schedule gets much more manageable from here on out. Next they will travel to Kennesaw (1-22). This should be a perfect game to get back into the win column and finish ASUN play in a strong way. Still, the Eagles cannot afford to take any team lightly.