ORLANDO, Fla. — Kierstan Bells registered double-double, and Kendall Spray scored 17 points – several at key moments – as the FGCU women’s basketball team (5-0) came back 10 points early to beat Fairfield (2-2) 83-61 on Saturday in the final results of the MAAC/ASUN Challenge at HP Fieldhouse at ESPN’s Large World Sports Complex.
With this result, FGCU will land a win in the 2017-18 team’s 6-0 win, which they can do against Tennessee Tech next Friday in the opening game of the San Juan penalty shootout in Puerto Rico. . This year’s season opener is the third-best team in the program’s Division I era behind the 2017-18 team and the 2010-11 team, which started 14-0.
“This is a great win for us,” head coach FGCU Karl Smesko speak. “Fairfield are a very tough and well-trained team. I loved our intensity in the second half. Everyone who came into the game was ready to make a positive contribution.”
Bell (Alliance, Ohio / Canton McKinley HS / Ohio State) made it through a tough first half to finish with a game-high 22 along with 10 rebounds, a block and a steal. This is her fifth consecutive 20-point attempt to open the season. She also scored her second double of the season, making it the 18th of her FGCU career in just 31 games.
In doing so, Bell is now just behind Whitney Knight in second place in the career doubles table during the show’s Division I era. Sarah Hansen (20) holds the top spot.
Outside Bell, Spray (Mt. Juliet, Tenn./Wilson Central / UT Martin / Clemson) fell to 17 points, including 9 points in the first quarter after FGCU fell 13-3. Her strike from the bench helped the Eagles pull the fourth round through one. She added five bounces and two steals.
Tishara Morehouse (Milwaukee, Wis./Rufus King/Western Nebraska CC) equals her for the highest scoring streak of the season with 17 while scoring the highest in assists (7) and steals (3).
After shooting just 5 to 18 in the first quarter, FGCU made a combined 18 to 34 from the field in the second and third quarters combined. They also sunk 14 3-pointers, which is the fourth time they’ve reached the all-time high in five games.
With the game tying the knot at 33 each at the end of the first half, Kaela Webb’s (Pontiac, Mich./ National Deroit Day / Proving / Detroit Mercy) 3 corners give FGCU a 3 point lead. The Eagles then scored eight of the first 10 points of the second half, including 3 from List of Emma (Colorado Springs, Colo./ Discovery Canyon Campus / Albany) and Tyra Cox (Orlando, Fla./Lake Highland Prep / William & Mary).
“We tried to do more defensive play (in the second half) to try to put some defensive pressure on them because they played their games really well,” said Smesko. “So we had to adjust their timing a little bit, and I think we let them move the ball a bit too easily in the first half. I think we did better when we put pressure on them. up them in the second half. That led to some more sales and also some tougher skins for them.”
Then, Green and Blue finished the half 9-3 to take a 66-49 lead through three. They led to 25 in the fourth inning after playing three points from Aaliyah Stanley (Boynton Beach, Fla. Academy/Oxbridge/Eastern Michigan) with 2:42 left.
With the win, FGCU extended its regular-season winning streak to 27 in a row since November 30 of last year.
Bell has 133 points over 5 games, while Spray leads the nation with a staggering 25 to 39 (.641) from a 3-point range.
FGCU improves to an all-time 7-1 against MAAC with four straight wins.
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Head Coach FGCU Karl Smesko maintains a 585-125 (0.824) overall record of his career, which is the third-highest win rate among active Division I coaches, behind only UConn’s Geno Auriemma and Kim Mulkey’s Baylor. He also led the Eagles to a 217-17 (.927) record in the ASUN regular game and a 27-2 (.931) record in the ASUN league game. Over the past 10 seasons, he has led FGCU to a record 153-5 (.968) in the conference game with six seasons unbeaten. 11-time ASUN Coach of the Year Award-winning coach led the show to 11 consecutive 25-time seasons and 20-time winning campaign, including more than 30 wins in four of seven past year. On top of that, the Eagles are 524-98 (.842) all-time since Smesko started the program in the 2002-03 season, and the Green and Blue’s .824 all-time win rate is the highest in the NCAA Division I history women’s basketball.
FGCU Athletics sponsors events in November and April to benefit the FGCU Campus Food Pantry (www.fgcu.edu/foodpantry) and Harry Chapin Food Bank (www.harrychapinfoodbank.org), organizations from selected by FGCU Athletics. For more information, including how to contribute, please visit www.fgcu.edu/foodpantry and use the hashtag #FeedFGCU to help raise awareness.
FGCU teams have combined to win an astounding 85 league and regular league championships in just over 13 seasons at the Division I level. Additionally, in just nine seasons of post-season DI qualifying , the Eagles have had a total of 42 teams or individuals compete in NCAA championships. Eight FGCU programs have earned the top 25 national rankings in their respective sports – including women’s basketball (21st, 2020-21), beach volleyball (20th, 2021) and both men’s soccer (2018, 2019) and women’s soccer (2018) are three of the most recent. In 2016-17, Green and Blue finished in the series’ best sixth place in the DI-AAA Learfield Director’s Cup and the top 100 was screened nationally, ahead of several Power-5 and FBS organizations. In 2018-19, the Eagles had one ASUN and seven of Florida’s best teams winning the NCAA’s Recognition Award for Academic Progress Rate in their sport. FGCU also achieved a record GPA of 3.50 in the classroom during the fall 2020 semester and has outperformed the overall undergraduate population for 23 consecutive semesters. Each of the Fall 2019, Spring 2020 and Fall 2020 semesters saw another major milestone achieved as all 15 programs achieved a 3.0 or higher cluster GPA. The Eagles also served an all-time high 7,200 volunteer hours in 2017 – recognized as one of two runners-up for the first ever NACDA Community Service Award presented by the Fiesta Bowl.
https://fgcuathletics.com/news/2021/11/20/bells-double-double-sprays-shooting-lead-womens-basketball-past-fairfield-83-61.aspx Bell’s Double-Double, Spray’s Shooting Women’s basketball overtakes Fairfield, 83-61