After 3 straight losses to the top teams in the conference, FGCU (8-19, 5-7) used their opportunity against Kennesaw State (1-23, 0-11) to get the train back on track heading into the final quarter of ASUN play. The Owls drew first blood and the Eagles struggled to hit shots. Shooting percentages have been down for a couple games and those same woes continued into this game. FGCU took a 3-point lead early but Kennesaw battled back and hit some shots to go up by 7 points on 2 separate occasions. The Eagles chipped away at their lead and went into halftime down by just 1 point (27-26) on a buzzer-beater 3 from Zach Scott.
The teams traded blows for the first 7 minutes of the 2nd half until FGCU took a 40-39 lead and never gave it up. The Eagles expanded that lead to as much as 15 with just over a minute to play, before locking up a 12-point victory on the road. Below we will highlight some of the notable contributions, talk about what still needs improvement, and take a brief look at what’s next for FGCU.
Leading the team and setting a new career high, Caleb Catto finished the night with 26 points and 6 rebounds. 22 of those points came in the 2nd half alone, as he truly helped guide the team to victory. He was uncharacteristically responsible for 5 turnovers but did more than enough to make up for that. Zach Scott also managed to use this game to break away from a perimeter shooting slump. Scott went 3/8 from deep while getting 15 points and 6 rebounds in a 0 turnover performance. Justus Rainwater finished 1 point shy of that elusive double-double, ending up with 9 points and 12 rebounds. He, along with others, was a large part of the Eagles completely dominating the rebounding battle (41-23). Brian Thomas played only 13 minutes in relief but managed 6 points, 4 rebounds and 4 big blocks for the Eagles. As a team, the Eagles did a much better job of guarding the perimeter, limiting the Owls to 31% from beyond the arc and neutralizing some of their more skilled guards. Lastly, even with the anomalous, 5 turnover performance from Catto, FGCU still played a fairly clean game, finishing with 14 team turnovers.
Areas For Improvement
With a big win, there isn’t as much to harp on as in other games. Still, FGCU seems to always allow at least one layer on the opposing team to have an excellent game. This keeps the other team in contention longer than they should be and makes it harder for the Eagles to close out games comfortably. Kennesaw’s Bryson Lockley finished with 22 points, 7 rebounds, and 4 assists. He was really the only reason that the Owls were able to keep this a game after shots started falling for FGCU.
Next, FGCU continues their road stand as they gear up to play the Lipscomb Bisons on Saturday, 2/15. FGCU managed to pull away with a 7 point victory at home last time these teams met. This should be a very competitive stretch for the Eagles as each of their final 4 games (starting with Lipscomb) are against teams that are battling for that 4th place conference finish and a subsequent first-round home game to begin the ASUN championship tournament.