In what was always going to be a tough early season test, the FGCU women’s basketball team showed a ton of growth. There were many performances and stories coming out of each game and the Eagles appear to be in a good spot going forward. Below, we will go over the happenings of each contest and touch on where the team sits at this point and heading into the next game.
In the opening round of the Beach Bubble tournament, FGCU fell harshly to Missouri State by a score of 74-49. This 25 point difference marks the biggest loss for the Eagles since 2017. Coming off a resounding opening day victory, FGCU hoped to be more competitive in this one, despite still needing to figure out how to best utilize the players on the team. The first 2 quarters of the game saw FGCU trailing big (49-18). The usually sharp shooting women’s team went 6/34 (18%) from the floor in the opening half and just 1/23 (4%) from deep. The 3rd quarter saw a much more competitive game. FGCU scored essentially half of their points (24/49) in this quarter alone. Unfortunately any hope of a comeback was thwarted when the Eagles shooting woes resurfaced in the final stanza. The biggest differences in this game were experience and the overwhelming presence in the paint possessed by Missouri State. FGCU was outscored 42-18 in the paint and clearly struggled with their opponent’s size, especially considering it was also a poor shooting night for the team.
Despite the tough loss, there were still some positives to be taken from this game. TK Morehouse made her debut as an Eagle and finished as the lone player to score double digits points (10) for the team. Andrea Cecil also corralled 7 rebounds, which was tied for 2nd from both squads.
The 2nd game of the weekend saw a few breakout performances from the Eagles. In just her 2nd game with FGCU, TK Morehouse poured in 35 points over 33 minutes played. She also finished with a +/- of 14 (best of any player on either team). Unfortunately, Morehouse would likely have needed to play all 40 minutes to get a victory as FGCU lost this one 86-80.
Despite the loss, there is a ton to be proud of and build off of from this game. In addition to Morehouse, Emma List continued her strong start to the season with 11 points to go along with 6 assists and 6 rebounds. Newcomer Aaliyah Stanley also impressed in her debut with 13 points.
Heading into the final game of the weekend, FGCU was able to debut their highly touted transfer, Kierstan Bell. Her eligibility this season was reported on Twitter by The Ball Out and Bell was able make her first appearance on 11/28 against Davidson. As first impressions go, Bell did about as much as anyone could think to do. She proves to be an immediate force for the Eagles. She showed that her speed, athleticism, and basketball IQ can be matched by few others. Bell recorded the first “20-20” game for FGCU as she finished with a whopping 24 points and 20 rebounds.
The benefits of having a player like her go far beyond her individual success. As they say, a high tide raises all boats. There were several other players who had a hand in the Eagles’ big 84-61 win over Davidson. Senior, Alyssa Blair, continues to shine in her expanded role. She scored 15 points and added 3 assists. TK Morehouse continued her impressive start with a 19 point game. Andrea Cecil got back on track with 12 points and 7 rebounds. Lastly, Emma List contributed 11 points and added 10 clutch assists.
In our tournament preview article, we stated that if FGCU was able to win any of these 3 games, it would be encouraging. Now that the events of the tournament have played out, it’s safe to say that people should definitely be encouraged by what they have seen from the Eagles. Given inexperience, this team will only get better as the year goes on. For Smesko’s squad to go toe-to-toe with 3 sizeable/experienced teams this early in the season and come out with a W is a big win, especially factoring in how much the addition of Kierstan Bell will continue to help them this season and beyond.
As of now, the next game for the Eagles is scheduled for Sunday, 12/6 at home vs Temple. Stay tuned for more coverage of all things FGCU Basketball!