4th-Seed Maryland Shoots Past 12th-Seed Women’s Hoops in NCAA Second Round


COLLEGE PARK, Md. – A 19-to-0 run bridging halftime proved the difference maker as No.13/fourth-seed Maryland defeated the No. 20/12-seed FGCU women’s basketball team, 89-65, on Sunday afternoon in the NCAA Tournament Second Round at the XFINITY Center. The Eagles (30-3) made their third NCAA Tournament Second Round appearance in program history after Friday’s win over No. 16/fifth-seed Virginia Tech.
The Terps (23-8) will advance to their 10th Sweet Sixteen under head coach Brenda Frese after Sunday’s win and Friday’s 102-71 victory over Delaware.
“Congratulations to Maryland – they’ve got a great team. They outplayed us today for sure. I thought we got off to a pretty good start and we were going toe-to-toe with them,” said head coach Karl Smesko. “Then the last couple of minutes of the first half, we let them get on a little bit of a run to get some separation. I thought it was really important that we got off to a fast start at the beginning of the second half, but Maryland was able to get some distance from us right at the beginning of the third. We started forcing some things and doing some things we normally don’t do. Overall, we’re just really proud of the season that we had, of everybody’s effort that they put in this season. We congratulate Maryland and wish them the best going forward.”
The Eagles were led by 17 points from Kendall Spray as she knocked down 5-of-8 from beyond the arc while also pulling down eight rebounds. Spray finished her collegiate career with 1,900 career points between stops at UT Martin, Clemson and FGCU. In her single campaign with the Eagles, she hit 103 three pointers which were just two shy of matching the single-season record, though were a record for the Division I era. Overall, she is one of the most prolific three-point shooting specialist in NCAA history as she ranks fourth all-time with 466 in her career.
Two-time Honorable Mention All-American Kierstan Bell finished with 14 points with 10 coming in the second half. She will close her three-year collegiate career with 1,505 points between Ohio State and FGCU. For the Green and Blue, she scored 1,179 points and had 452 rebounds through 50 games.
Maryland was led by Diamond Miller who had 24 points and nine rebounds and Angel Reese who posted 21 points and nine rebounds as well. Ashley Owusu rounded out the scoring leaders with 20 points on the day.
The Terps got out to an early six point lead, but three pointers by Kerstie Phills and Spray, six first quarter points by Andrea Cecil, and a lay-up at the buzzer by Tishara Morehouse set the teams into the second stanza tied at 23-23.
Spray hit three triples in the second quarter including her third after hitting two free throws following an intentional foul on Maryland that put FGCU up 39-36 at the 3:32 mark. Despite the momentum the Eagles had built, the Terps then closed the quarter on an 11-0 run taking a 47-39 lead into intermission.
The third quarter saw Maryland score eight straight to open the second half building out a 55-39 lead in just under three minutes. The Terps extended their lead to 26 points in the fourth quarter. The Eagles were able to cut the deficit down to 20, 84-64, after a three from Phills with 4:03 remaining.
Maryland finished the day shooting 51 percent (30-59), while FGCU shot 38 percent (25-65). The Eagles knocked down 11 three pointers, but saw 15 turnovers turned into 20 pointers for the Terps.
The loss snapped FGCU’s NCAA-leading 30 game road win streak which dated back to Dec. 4, 2019. FGCU is now 3-8 all-time in the NCAA Tournament after advancing to the second round for the third time (2015, 2018). The Eagles’ win over Virginia Tech on Friday marked the second-highest ranked win in program history and were the most points scored by FGCU in an NCAA Tournament game.
At 30-3, the Eagles join only South Carolina as the only two programs over the last eight years to post five 30-plus win seasons and they have the fourth-most wins in the country over at 235 in that stretch.
For complete coverage of the women’s basketball program, follow the Eagles on Twitter and Instagram at @FGCU_WBB, on Facebook at /fgcuwbb and online at www.FGCUathletics.com. You can also sign-up to have news on FGCU women’s basketball or other programs delivered directly to your inbox by visiting www.fgcuathletics.com/email.


IT TAKES A TEAM to achieve our newest goal – a $10 million campaign to address student-athlete needs in continued academic success, life skills, mental health, nutrition, and strength and conditioning as well as departmental needs in facility expansion and improvement as well as mentoring and leadership training for coaches and staff. The name embodies our mission and the purpose of the E.A.G.L.E. Campaign – Eagle Athletics Generating Lifetime Excellence. Join Our Team and pledge your gift today to help the Eagles of tomorrow!



Do you enjoy watching or following the FGCU women’s basketball program? Would you like to play a role in the growth of the program and help take it to heights never before experienced? If so, you can reach out to Director of Advancement, Matt Ring, about opportunities to make an impact on the experiences of our student-athletes. He can be reached by email at mring@fgcu.edu or by office phone at 239-745-4434.


FGCU head coach Karl Smesko maintains a record of 610-128 (.826) overall in his career, which is the third-highest winning percentage among active Division I coaches behind only UConn’s Geno Auriemma and LSU’s Kim Mulkey. He has also led the Eagles to a 232-18 (.930) mark in ASUN regular season play and a 30-2 (.933) record in ASUN tournament play. Over the previous 10 seasons, he has guided FGCU to a 153-5 (.968) record in conference play with six undefeated seasons. The 12-time ASUN Coach of the Year has led the program to 12-straight 25-win seasons and 18-consecutive 20-win campaigns, including 30-plus wins in five of the last eight years. On top of all that, the Eagles are 549-101 (.845) all-time since Smesko started the program in the 2002-03 season, and the Green and Blue’s .845 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/adminservices/foodpantry and utilize the hashtag #FeedFGCU to help raise awareness.



FGCU teams have combined to win an incredible 90 conference regular season and tournament titles in just 14+ seasons at the Division I level. Additionally, in just 10 seasons of D-I postseason eligibility, the Eagles have had a combined 44 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. 20, 2021-22), beach volleyball (No. 20, 2022) 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 25 consecutive semesters. The past five semesters (Fall 2019 – Fall 2021) each saw another milestone reached as all 15 programs achieved a 3.0-or-higher team GPA in each. 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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