13 Nov Bell Nets 1,000 Career Points as Women’s Basketball Pulls Away From Temple, 70-53
FORT MYERS, Fla. – Junior Kierstan Bell scored her 1,000th-career point Friday evening against Temple as the FGCU women’s basketball team (2-0) pulled away in the second half against the Owls (1-1) at Alico Arena to win 70-53.
“I thought this was a great game where we were tested, but were able to make a run in the second half to beat a really good team,” said head coach Karl Smesko. “I expect Temple to do really well this year. For our first game against a Division I opponent, this was a good result for us.”
At halftime, the Eagles led by just six, but a 22-16 third quarter and 15-10 final stanza secured the victory for the Eagles.
Bell (Alliance, Ohio/Canton McKinley/Ohio State) led the Green and Blue with 26 points and nine rebounds, falling one board short of a double-double for the second straight game to open the season. It also marked her 22nd game with FGCU to score 20-or-more points. She finished the game with 1,006 career points through just 58 career games (17.3 ppg).
Graduate student Kendall Spray (Mt. Juliet, Tenn./Wilson Central/Clemson/UT Martin) chipped in with 15 points on five three-pointers, giving her 372 for her career, second-most among active players. Redshirt-senior Emma List (Colorado Springs, Colo./Discovery Canyon Campus/Albany) dished out six assists to lead the team.
The Eagles now feature three 1,000 career point scorers on the team – Bell (1,006 pts), Andrea Cecil (1,033 pts), and Spray (1,558 pts).
As a team the Eagles made eight three pointers, their 506th straight game with a trey, while holding Temple to 0-11 from behind the arc. In the division I era, that is the most missed three-pointers by an Eagle opponent without making one and second-most all time. It is also just the second time the Eagles have not allowed a three-pointer in the last six years.
FGCU got off to a fast start, jumping out to a 16-8 lead after one quarter, but in the second period, the Owls got to within one at 26-25. A three-point play by redshirt senior Tyra Cox (Orlando, Fla./Lake Highland Prep/William & Mary) with under a minute to go helped push the lead back to six, 33-27, which the Eagles took into the locker room.
Coming out of the break, Temple inched closer and made it a two-point game with 6:29 left in the third, but the Eagles responded with an 8-0 run in the next 90 seconds highlighted by threes from Spray and Bell to push the Eagle lead back to 47-37.
The Owls got back to within eight in the fourth quarter, but again the Eagles responded, this time with an 11-0 run to put the game out of reach at 66-47 with under four minutes to play.
Temple was led by Alexa Williamson who had a double-double with 23 points and 12 rebounds. Mia Davis notched 16 points and eight rebounds.
The Eagles shot 42-percent (26-of-62) for the night including eight triples. The Owls held a 45-to-35 edge in rebounds, but FGCU was able to force 25 turnovers which led to 27 points off fast breaks.
The Eagles will return to action on Sunday when they travel to Baton Rouge to take on LSU at 1:30 p.m. FGCU will look to provide the first test for new Tigers’ head coach Kim Mulkey, one of just two active coaches with a higher winning percentage (.859) than FGCU head coach Karl Smesko (.823). Both are behind Geno Auriemma (.886).
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FGCU head coach Karl Smesko maintains a record of 582-125 (.823) overall in his career, which is the third-highest winning percentage among active Division I coaches behind only UConn’s Geno Auriemma and Baylor’s Kim Mulkey. He has also led the Eagles to a 217-17 (.927) mark in ASUN regular season play and a 27-2 (.931) record in ASUN tournament play. Over the past 10 seasons, he has guided FGCU to a 153-5 (.968) record in conference play with six undefeated seasons. The 11-time ASUN Coach of the Year has led the program to 11-straight 25-win seasons and 17-consecutive 20-win campaigns, including 30-plus wins in four of the past seven years. On top of all that, the Eagles are 521-98 all-time since Smesko started the program in the 2002-03 season, and the Green and Blue’s .841 all-time winning percentage is the best in NCAA Division I women’s basketball history.
FGCU Athletics sponsors events in November and April to benefit the FGCU Campus Food Pantry (www.fgcu.edu/foodpantry) and the Harry Chapin Food Bank (www.harrychapinfoodbank.org), FGCU Athletics’ charities of choice. For more information, including how to make a contribution, please visit www.fgcu.edu/foodpantry and utilize the hashtag #FeedFGCU to help raise awareness.
FGCU teams have combined to win an incredible 85 conference regular season and tournament titles in just 13+ seasons at the Division I level. Additionally, in just nine seasons of D-I postseason eligibility, the Eagles have had a combined 42 teams or individuals compete in NCAA championships. Eight FGCU programs have earned a top-25 national ranking in their respective sport – including women’s basketball (No. 21, 2020-21), beach volleyball (No. 20, 2021) and both men’s soccer (2018, 2019) and women’s soccer (2018) as three of the most recent. In 2016-17, the Green and Blue posted a department-best sixth-place finish in the DI-AAA Learfield Directors’ Cup and top-100 showing nationally, ahead of several Power-5 and FBS institutions. In 2018-19, the Eagles had an ASUN and state of Florida best seven teams earn the NCAA’s Public Recognition Award for their Academic Progress Rate in their sport. FGCU also collectively earned a record 3.50 GPA in the classroom in the fall 2020 semester and has outperformed the general University undergraduate population for 23 consecutive semesters. The 2019 Fall, 2020 Spring, and 2020 Fall semesters each saw another milestone reached as all 15 programs achieved a 3.0-or-higher team GPA. The Eagles also served an all-time high 7,200 volunteer hours in 2017 – being recognized as one of two runners-up for the inaugural NACDA Community Service Award presented by the Fiesta Bowl.
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