| Naples Daily News
Watch: FGCU women beat Liberty to win ASUN regular-season title outright
The No. 24 FGCU women’s basketball team rallied from a first-quarter deficit to beat Liberty, 80-60, to win ASUN regular-season title outright Friday.
Greg Hardwig, Naples Daily News
For the first time in six years, the FGCU women’s basketball team is ranked in both national polls.
After getting ranked 24th in the USA TODAY Coaches Poll last Tuesday, the Eagles (23-2), who have won 22 straight, were ranked 24th in The Associated Press Top 25 on Monday afternoon.
FGCU was the only team to move into the rankings this week. DePaul, which was 25th, lost twice to tumble out of the poll. The Eagles are just barely in, even though they are 24th. They received 54 points, one more than No. 25 South Dakota State, and two more than Marquette, the first among other teams receiving votes.
The new USA TODAY Coaches Poll comes out Tuesday.
It’s the first time the Eagles have been in the AP poll since 2015, and the first time they’ve been in both polls since that year. FGCU has been in the Coaches Poll more frequently, as late as last year when the Eagles went 30-3 before the ASUN championship game was canceled along with the rest of the season due to the coronavirus pandemic.
This year, The Eagles are coming off completing a 16-0 ASUN slate, capped by a sweep of second-place Liberty by 20 and 15 points, respectively, at Alico Arena. They have the nation’s longest road winning streak at 23 games.
FGCU starts the ASUN tournament in Kennesaw, Georgia, on Thursday at 2 p.m. against either the No. 8 seed Kennesaw State or No. 9 seed Jacksonville. Those two teams play at 2 p.m. Wednesday. The tournament continues with the semifinals Friday and the title game Sunday at 2 p.m.
More: FGCU roundup: Women’s basketball finishes off ASUN schedule unbeaten with win over Liberty
More: College basketball: FGCU women ranked in USA TODAY Coaches Poll for first time this season
More: College basketball: FGCU women clinch outright ASUN regular-season title with win over Liberty
The Eagles’ only losses are to AP’s No. 15 Arkansas, in overtime, and No. 21 Missouri State in the Gulf Coast Showcase at Alico Arena, and both of those were without Kierstan Bell, an Ohio State transfer who was granted immediate eligibility after three games, and junior Tyra Cox, who missed the first four games with a hand injury.
Bell leads the ASUN in scoring (25.2) and rebounding (11.0), and Cox is third in scoring (9.4) and second in rebounding (3.9).
Bell and junior-college transfer T.K. Morehouse, a point guard who averages 17.6 points per game, just finished with the top two regular-season scoring averages in the program’s Division I era.
Greg Hardwig is a sports reporter for the Naples Daily News and The News-Press. Follow him on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter: @NDN_Ghardwig, email him at email@example.com. Support local journalism with this special subscription offer at https://cm.naplesnews.com/specialoffer/
ASUN Women’s Basketball Championship
(8) Kennesaw State vs. (9) Jacksonville at KSU-Marietta, 2 p.m.
Thursday, March 11
(1) FGCU vs. Kennesaw State-Jacksonville winner, 2 p.m.; (4) Lipscomb vs. (5) Stetson, 2 p.m. at KSU-Marietta; (3) North Florida vs. (6) North Alabama at KSU-Marietta, 7 p.m.; (2) Liberty vs. (7) Bellarmine, 7 p.m.
Friday, March 12
Highest vs. lowest, 2 p.m.; Second-highest vs. second-lowest, 7 p.m.
Sunday, March 14
Championship, 2 p.m.