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FGCU Notes: Smesko wins 500; volleyball to play UCF in NCAA opener

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SMESKO GETS WIN NUMBER 500 IN HAWAII

FGCU women’s basketball coach Karl Smesko hit yet another milestone in a career full of them on Sunday when the only coach in the program’s history won his 500th game as a head coach on Sunday.

The Eagles ended a stretch of three games in three days Sunday with a 90-71 win over American in the Rainbow Wahine Classic in Honolulu.

“This was our best performance of the season,” Smesko said. “We earned a quality win against a very good team. It is a great way to finish a great trip.”

Nasrin Ulel led the Eagles(4-2) with 28 points in the win, while Dunbar graduate Keri Jewett-Giles added 22 points. Tytionia Adderly also scored in double figures with 11 points.

Smesko’s 500th win comes out of 616 games coached, including 529 of those at FGCU. Smesko – and FGCU – have a 439-90 record, and 307-68 in Division I. When Smesko got his 400th career win, it came in 493 games, two games faster than legendary Connecticut coach Geno Auriemma, and opened the season as one of just four Division I coaches with a career winning percentage over .800, joining Auriemma, Kim Mulkey of Baylor’s, and Stanford’s Tara VanDerveer. VanDerveer’s Cardinal were the Eagles opponent in their first game in Hawaii and a rematch of the second round of the 2018 NCAA Tournament. Stanford, ranked No. 8 in the nation, won 88-65.

FGCU returns home to play Houston on Wednesday.

VOLLEYBALL TO PLAY UCF IN FIRST NCAA TOURNAMENT GAME

The FGCU volleyball team will play their first NCAA Tournament match in program history on Thursday, taking on No. 13 overall seeded UCF in Orlando, as the tournament field was revealed Sunday.

The Eagles(26-6) enter as the No. 4 seed in the Orlando regional, an all-Sunshine State affair including the host Knights(27-3), Florida(24-6), and Florida State(19-9).

FGCU played against UCF twice this season, both matches went to the Knights who are undefeated at home this season. UCF won in a sweep at home on Sept. 14, and a 3-1 win in Coral Gables on Aug. 24.

The Eagles have won 15 matches in a row en route to their first-ever Atlantic Sun tournament title on Nov. 17, while UCF hasn’t lost since Labor Day weekend, racking up 24 straight wins in the process.

Whichever team wins Thursday will play the winner of Florida and FSU on Friday.

MEN’S BASKETBALL CONTINUES SLUMP IN BOCA

After a rough Thanksgiving week at the Hertz Arena in the Gulf Coast Showcase, the FGCU men’s basketball team has continued its slump after losing 85-68 to FAU on Sunday in Boca Raton.

The Owls(6-1) did what many FGCU opponents have done this season, which is open a big lead and pull away, using a 12-2 run to turn a 15-10 lead into 27-12 early in the first half, and another big run late in the half saw the Owls lead by as many as 21.

Though the Eagles got 20 points from Haanif Cheatham and would get as close as 10 in the second half on a Christian Carlyle three, cutting the lead to 63-53, they could get no closer. FAU outrebounded the Eagles 42-27, and held a 13-4 edge in second chance points.

The Eagles 2-6 record marks their worst start since the 2010-11 season, their last under Division I reclassification and their final year under former coach Dave Balza. FGCU went 10-20 that season. In their current four-game losing streak, FGCU has lost by double digits in all four games.

FGCU plays FIU at home on Wednesday.


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