15 Nov Bell, Spray Collect ASUN Weekly Honors
FORT MYERS, Fla. – The FGCU women’s basketball outstanding first week of the 2021-22 season got even better, Monday, as junior Kierstan Bell (Alliance, Ohio/Canton McKinley/Ohio State) and graduate student Kendall Spray (Mt. Juliet, Tenn./Wilson Central/Clemson/UT Martin) collected ASUN weekly awards. Bell was named ASUN Player of the Week while Spray picked up ASUN Newcomer of the Week honors.
Bell, named ASUN Player of the Week for the seventh time in her career, did it all as the Eagles went 3-0 to begin the year, which included a home win against Temple and a road win against SEC foe LSU, averaging 26.7 points, 9.3 rebounds, 4.0 assists, 2.3 steals, and 1.3 blocks.
“Kierstan had a brilliant performance,” said head coach Karl Smesko. “She got off to a great start and just kept it going.”
After starting the season with 22 points and nine rebounds against Florida Memorial, Bell dropped 26 points and grabbed nine rebounds against the Owls. Saving her best performance for last, the junior tallied 32 points on 13-of-17 shooting, including 5-for-8 from three against LSU. She also grabbed 10 rebounds against the Tigers for her first double-double of the season, the 17th of her career.
Spray entered this season with a reputation as a sharpshooter from the outside. She began the season with 363 made threes in her career, split between UT Martin and Clemson, which is second-most among active players. In three games for the Green and Blue, Spray has added 14 more on just 24 attempts for a .583 clip.
“Kendall has been excellent to start the season,” continued Smesko. “She is making big contributions on both ends of the floor and even grabbed eight rebounds against LSU.”
Like Bell, Spray saved her best performance for the road as she scored 17 points on 6-of-7 shooting, including 5-of-6 from deep while also pulling down a season-high eight rebounds against the Tigers.
Bell, Spray, and the rest of the Eagles will return to the court this weekend for the ASUN/MAAC challenge in Orlando. They will take on Manhattan on Friday at 11 a.m. before battling with Fairfield, Saturday at noon.
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FGCU head coach Karl Smesko maintains a record of 583-125 (.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 522-98 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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