PROGRESSIVE! #20 Eagles Knock Off #16/5th Seed Virginia Tech opening NCAA Tournament
COLLEGE PARK, MD. – Behind a barrage of 15 three pointers and four players in double digits scoring Nos. 20 and 12thThe seeded FGCU women’s basketball team advanced to the second round of the NCAA tournament with an 84-81 win over #16/5th seed Virginia Tech (23-10) on Friday afternoon at the XFINITY Center. The Eagles (30-2) meet 4th Seed Maryland (22-8) on Sunday with a tip time to be announced soon.
“I thought today was an excellent game – the kind of game you would expect from two teams finishing in the top 25,” said the head coach Karl Smesko. “It was going back and forth all the time. They hit the ball at us pretty well and we were a bit slow to adjust. I liked how hard we were on the track and both Karli Seay and Kierstan Bell made huge baskets for us along the way. They came through in the clutch. Overall it was a great team effort. Everyone pulled together and in the end found a way to persevere.”
The win was the first NCAA tournament win since defeating Missouri in the first round in 2018 and improved the Eagles’ all-time record in the Big Dance to 3-6. It was also the second-biggest win over a ranked opponent since Missouri, who was ranked 15th, and four players scored double-digit goals, most recently against the Tigers. The Eagles also nearly equaled their program record for three points in NCAA tournament games, as the 2018 second-round 15 was just two away from matching their 2018 performance against Stanford (17 of 47).
Against the Hokies, the Greens and Blues went 15 of 38 (39.5%) from beyond the arc in a 30-of-64 shooting performance that day. The Hokies were only 6 of 17 from Deep but hit 30 of 60 and went 15 of 20 from the charity strip. FGCU had an efficient offensive day with 19 assists and a season-low three turnovers for the game.
Bell, who received AP and USBWA All-America Honorable Mentions earlier this week, scored 22 points and added eight rebounds to lead FGCU — she was just three points off her 2021 NCAA Tournament performance of 25 points against Michigan removed. Tishara Morehouse had 13 points and a season-high nine assists (down one from her career high). Seay finished his career with 12 points and a best four triples Kerstin Phillips Added 11 points. Andrea Cecil (8 points, 5 rebounds), Emma list (9 points) and Kendall Spray (9 points) All timely shots taken.
Virginia Tech was led by ACC Player of the Year Elizabeth Kitley, who had a game-high and program-record 42 points with 16-of-27 from the floor and 10-of-14 at the free-throw line. Georgia Amoore added 12 points to round out the game’s goalscoring list.
After trailing one at the break, the Eagles took control of the second half with a 23-16 lead in the third quarter, sparked by a 7-0 run midway through the stanza. Bell had eight in the frame while Spray, Phils and Morehouse each had five.
The Hokies made quick work of closing the six-point deficit to start the fourth quarter – Kitley hit six straight points to open things up and level the game 62-62. The Eagles held off a 12-to-4 run from Tech in the first four minutes before countering with three and two free throws from Bell to retire 71-68 and 4-01 to go.
Virginia Tech tied the game 74-74 two minutes later, but a layup from Bell and a three from Seay with 28 seconds remaining gave the Eagles the cushion they needed to claim the win. Spray hit four big free throws in the final 16 seconds while Bell added one with five seconds left to keep the Hokies at bay.
For full coverage of the women’s basketball program, follow the Eagles Twitter and Instagram at @FGCU_WBB, on Facebook at /fgcuwbb and online at www.FGCUathletics.com. You can also sign up to receive news about FGCU women’s basketball or other programs straight to your inbox by visiting www.fgcuathletics.com/email.
IT TAKES A TEAM to achieve our latest goal – a $10 million campaign to address the needs of students and athletes for continued academic success, life skills, mental health, nutrition, and strength and conditioning, and the needs of departments in expanding and improving of institutions as well as mentoring and leadership training for trainers and employees. The name embodies our mission and purpose of the EAGLE campaign – Eagle Athletics Generating Lifetime Excellence. Join our team and pledge your gift today to help the eagles of tomorrow!
SUPPORT THE WOMEN’S BASKETBALL PROGRAM
Do you enjoy watching or following the FGCU women’s basketball program? Would you like to play a part in the growth of the program and help take it to unprecedented heights? If so, you can contact Matt Ring, Director of Advancement, to learn about ways you can impact the experiences of our student-athletes. He can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone in the office at 239-745-4434.
FGCU Head Coach Karl Smesko holds a career overall record of 610-127 (.826), which is the third-highest win ratio among active Division I coaches, behind only UConn’s Geno Auriemma and LSU’s Kim Mulkey. He has also led the Eagles to a 232-18 (.930) mark in ASUN regular season play and a 30-2 (.933) record in ASUN tournament play. In the past 10 seasons, he has led FGCU to a 153-5 (.968) record in conference play with six unbeaten seasons. The 12-time ASUN Coach of the Year has led the program to 12 consecutive 25-win seasons and 18 consecutive 20-win campaigns, including more than 30 wins in five of the last eight years. Additionally, the Eagles are 549-100 (.845) all-time since Smesko started the program in the 2002-03 season, and the Green and Blue’s .845 all-time win ratio is the best in NCAA Division I women’s basketball history.
FGCU Athletics sponsors November and April events to benefit the FGCU Campus Food Pantry (www.fgcu.edu/foodpantry) and the Harry Chapin Food Bank (www.harrychapinfoodbank.org), the charities of choice of FGCU Athletics. For more information, including how to contribute, visit www.fgcu.edu/adminservices/foodpantry and use the hashtag #FeedFGCU to raise awareness.
FGCU teams have collectively won an incredible 90 conference regular season and tournament titles in just 14+ seasons at the Division I level. Additionally, in just 10 seasons of DI postseason eligibility, the Eagles have had a total of 44 teams or individuals compete in NCAA championships. Eight FGCU programs have earned a national top-25 ranking in their respective sports — including women’s basketball (No. 20, 2021-22), beach volleyball (No. 20, 2022), and both men’s soccer (2018, 2019) and women’s soccer ( 2018) as three of the youngest. In 2016-17, the Greens and Blues finished in the division’s best sixth place finish in the DI-AAA Learfield Directors’ Cup and made the top-100 nationally, ahead of several Power-5 and FBS institutions. In 2018-19, the Eagles had the top seven teams from ASUN and Florida to earn the NCAA’s Public Recognition Award for their rate of academic progress in their sport. FGCU also achieved a combined record 3.50 GPA in the classroom for the Fall 2020 semester and has surpassed the university’s general student population for 25 consecutive semesters. In each of the last five semesters (Fall 2019 – Fall 2021) another milestone was reached as all 15 programs each achieved a team GPA of 3.0 or higher. The Eagles also contributed an all-time high of 7,200 volunteer hours in 2017 and were recognized as one of two runners-up for the inaugural NACDA Community Service Award presented by the Fiesta Bowl.
Comments are closed.