FGCU/LIBERTY PREVIEW

Lynchburg, VA- FGCU (14-8, 4-5 ASUN) faces Liberty University (17-5, 8-1 ASUN), Saturday at 7 PM, from Liberty Arena.

Stats (FGCU):

FGCU averages 70.8 ppg, shoot 43.0% (544/1264) from the field, and 34.5% (200/579) from beyond the arc. The Eagles average 36.4 team rebounds per game. FGCU dishes out 12.8 assists, 7.0 steals, and 3.4 blocks per game. The Eagles average 12.4 team turnovers per game.

Stats (LU):

Liberty averages 74.7 ppg, shoot 47.3% (586/1239) from the field, and 38.3% (250/652) from beyond the arc. The Flames average 33.9 team rebounds per game. Liberty dishes out 17.8 assists, 6.6 steals, and 2.6 blocks per game. The Flames average 10.7 team turnovers per game.

3 Players To Watch For (FGCU):

6’1 SR G Isaiah Thompson 13.4 ppg, 2.0 rpg

6’7 JR F Zach Anderson 12.8 ppg, 7.8 rpg

6’3 JR G Chase Johnston 11.4 ppg, 2.5 rpg

3 Players To Watch For (LU):

5’9 R-SR G Darius McGhee 20.9 ppg, 2.9 rpg

Last season’s stats/accolades:

-Named 2021-22 ASUN Player of the Year for the second straight season.

-Became the only Liberty player to win a conference player of the year award more than once.

-Named to the NABC District 3 First Team.

-An ASUN First Team All-Conference selection and an ASUN All-Tournament selection.

-Lou Henson Player of the Year finalist.

-Named ASUN Player of the Week three times throughout the season.

-Averaged 24.6 points, 4.5 rebounds, and 3.6 assists per game.

6’2 SO G Brody Peebles 10.3 ppg, 2.3 rpg

Last season’s stats/accolades:

-Averaged 5.4 ppg, 1.9 rpg, and 1.2 apg

-Played in all 33 games for the Flames

6’7 SR F Kyle Rode 9.8 ppg, 3.3 rpg

Last season’s stats/accolades:

-Earned ASUN Second Team All-Conference honors.

-Played in all 33 games and started in 32 contests.

-Averaged 9.0 points, 4.5 rebounds and 4.2 assists this season.

-Ranked first on the team in assists per game and seventh in the ASUN.

Overview:

The Flames and Eagles square off for the final time in regular season play, before Liberty joins Conference USA. Liberty has been on a roll, winners of five straight games in ASUN Conference play. Darius McGhee leads the Flames offensively, averaging 20.9 ppg, and is on pace to win ASUN Conference Player of the Year for the third straight season. Head Coach Ritchie McKay leads the Flames, and has been with the program since 2015 (2nd stint with Liberty, previously coached Flames, 2007-08, and 2008-09 seasons). Liberty’s wins this season have come against Regent, NC Central, Bradley, Delaware State, UMES, Virginia University of Lynchburg, Bryant, Grambling State, Mid-Atlantic Christian, Bellarmine, Lipscomb, Jacksonville State, UNA, UCA, Jacksonville, UNF, and Stetson. Their setbacks have come against #19 Alabama, Southern Miss, Northwestern, Oral Roberts, and EKU.

FGCU is struggling to stay above .500 in ASUN Conference play, and has lost their past four road games in ASUN play. The Eagles offense came back to life vs Queens Thursday, but lost in the final seconds of the game. Isaiah Thompson leads the Eagles offensively, averaging 13.4 ppg. Liberty will not give FGCU the opportunities that Queens gave the Eagles offense to come back to life, so the defense is gonna have to clamp down vs Liberty. A win vs Liberty would once again have FGCU back to .500 in ASUN Conference play. FGCU defeated Liberty last season in Lynchburg, 82-72 in an overtime thriller from Liberty Arena. Liberty will want to get thar game back for sure, so expect a great game from both teams, Saturday night.

BELLARMINE/FGCU PREVIEW

Fort Myers, FL- FGCU (19-3, 7-1 ASUN) remains home to face Bellarmine University (7-14, 3-5 ASUN), Saturday night at 7 PM, from Alico Arena.

Stats (BU):

Bellarmine averages 60.8 ppg, shoot 39.0% (466/1194) from the field, and 24.6% (67/272) from beyond the arc. The Knights average 41.0 team rebounds per game. Bellarmine dishes out 12.8 assists, 7.0 steals, and 5.0 blocks per game. The Knights average 21.5 team turnovers per game.

Stats (FGCU):

FGCU averages 77.4 ppg, shoot 46.7% (617/1320) from the field, and 36.2% (246/679) from beyond the arc. The Eagles average 33.5 team rebounds per game. FGCU dishes out 17.0 assists, 8.7 steals, and 2.3 blocks per game. The Eagles average 13.0 team turnovers per game.

3 Players To Watch For (BU):

6’6 FR C Gracie Merkle 16.0 ppg, 11.2 rpg

-Rated as No. 2 player in Kentucky for Class of 2022 by Prep Girls Hoops Kentucky and as No. 2 regionally in 2021 by the Rick Bolus High Potential Blue Chip Recruiting Service

-Played high school basketball at Bullitt East in Kentucky and joined program’s 1,000-point and 500-rebound clubs

-Was a 2022 Kentucky Miss Basketball and Gatorade Player of the Year candidate after averaging 18.6 points and 10.0 rebounds per game as a Senior

5’10 R-SO G Hayley Harrison 10.2 ppg, 3.3 rpg

While at UT-Martin:

-Played first three college seasons at UT Martin, taking a medical redshirt as a freshman in 2019-2020

-In the two healthy seasons, played in a total of 49 games and earned multiple Athletic Director’s Honor Roll notices

-In 25 games as a sophomore, including 12 starts, averaged 5.0 points, 3.0 rebounds, 1.3 assists and 1.0 steals in 22.4 minutes per game while scoring in double figures four times

6’2 GR F Sheniqua Coatney 7.4 ppg, 5.1 rpg

As a Senior:

-Led team in rebounding (5.0) and blocked shots (21) while ranking third in field-goal percentage (44.7) and fourth in steals (23) and free-throw attempts (34)

-Appeared in 22 games with 12 starts and averaged 4.7 points

-ASUN Honor Roll recipient

3 Players To Watch For (FGCU):

5’3 5th G TK Morehouse 16.2 ppg, 3.5 rpg

5’8 R-JR G Alyza Winston 14.1 ppg, 2.7 rpg

6’0 5th G Sha Carter 11.7 ppg, 4.9 rpg

Overview:

FGCU finally gets to face freshman sensation 6’6 C Gracie Merkle, and as Bellarmine’s record of 7-14 doesn’t look like much on paper, stopping Merkle has been a problem for most teams in ASUN Conference play. Merkle, the Knights leading scorer, is averaging a double-double of 16.0 ppg, and 11.2 rpg, and was one of the top recruited players in Kentucky in high school as as Senior. She has earned three ASUN Conference Player of the Week awards, and six ASUN Freshman of the Week awards so far this season.

The Knights wins this season have come against St. Bonaventure, Simmons College of Kentucky, Evansville, Franklin College, EKU, UNF, and Jacksonville. Their setbacks have come against #16 LSU, IPFW, Kentucky, Cleveland State, Georgia State, Morehead State, Louisville, Wofford, Murray State, Jacksonville, UNA, Kennesaw State, EKU, and Stetson. Head Coach Chancellor Dugan, has led the program since 2012.

FGCU is led offensively by TK Morehouse, who is averaging 16.2 ppg. The depth of this team continues to impress everyone, and even against EKU, Morehouse was the 5th leading scorer in the game (10 point), which shows that any player in any game can lead the Eagles offensively. Expect FGCU to defeat Bellarmine, and potentially put Sha Carter on Merkle, and try to not let her dominate the Eagles in the paint. The Eagles will also have to limit Sheniqua Coatney, who is 6’2, and having a nice season offensively, averaging 7.4 ppg. Should be another great game from Alico Arena, Saturday night!

FGCU/QUEENS RECAP

Charlotte, NC- FGCU (14-8, 4-5 ASUN) dropped another road ASUN Conference game, falling to Queens University of Charlotte (14-8, 4-5 ASUN), 84-82, Thursday night from Curry Arena.

Stats (FGCU):

FGCU shot 49.2% (30/61) from the field, 41.9% (13/31) from beyond the arc, and were outrebounded 37-31 by the Royals. The Eagles dished out 13 assists, had 8 steals, and 1 block in the game. FGCU forced 11 Royals team turnovers, while having 12 team turnovers of their own.

Stats (QUOC):

Queens shot 44.1% (26/59) from the field, 40.0% (12/30) from beyond the arc, and outrebounded FGCU 37-31. The Royals dished out 16 assists, had 7 steals, and 3 blocks in the game. Queens forced 12 FGCU team turnovers, while having 11 team turnovers of their own.

Outstanding Players (FGCU):

Andre Weir 22 pts, 5 reb

Isaiah Thompson 20 pts, 4 reb

Zach Anderson 19 pts, 12 reb

Outstanding Players (QUOC):

AJ McKee 23 pts, 4 reb

Kalib Mathews 16 pts, 4 reb

BJ McLaurin 14 pts, 9 reb

Overview:

FGCU came to play offensively Thursday night, and kept pace with a Queens offense that consistently has had no issues scoring all season. The Eagles were led offensively by Andre Weir, who finished with 22 points. Isaiah Thompson (20 points), and Zach Anderson (19 points 12 rebounds) also finished in double figures in scoring for the Eagles. The Royals were led offensively by AJ McKee, who finished with a game high 23 points. Kalib Mathews (16 points), BJ McLaurin (14 points), and Kenny Dye (13 points), also scored in double figures for Queens. The game came down to BJ McLaurin hitting two key free throws with 26 seconds left, after Andre Weir was called for his fifth and final foul, after going over the back on McLaurin.

It’s another frustrating loss for the Eagles, and at some point FGCU has to start winning these type of games on the road. Queens was playing NCAA Division II last season, and the Eagles struggled with Bellarmine when they first came to the ASUN Conference, so there’s a theme now for the Eagles with transitioning teams.

What’s Next:

FGCU (14-8, 4-5 ASUN) remain on the road and face Liberty University (17-5, 8-1 ASUN), Saturday night at 7 PM from Liberty Arena.

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