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FGCU Women’s Basketball ranked #1 in USA TODAY Coaches Poll and AP.

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FGCU women's basketball team poses for photos after defeating Liberty University 80-60, Friday, March 5, 2021, at Alico Arena on the FGCU Campus.

The FGCU women’s basketball squad is ranked #1 in the national polls for the first time since 2006.

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.

Karl Smesko (FGCU coach) said, “We are certainly excited to be ranked.” It means that we have gained a lot national respect for the way we played this season. To get to the Top 25 again in both polls we had to play really well and work hard. I believe our players will enjoy this moment.

FGCU lost its top 7 scorers from last season and was therefore the only team that moved up in the rankings. DePaul (25th), lost twice in the poll to be eliminated. Despite being 24th, the Eagles barely made it in. Their 54 points was one more than that of No. 25 South Dakota State was awarded the highest number of points and Marquette received two more.

Junior Tyra cox is third in both the polls at No. 25. She had been the highest returning scorer last year with 2.3 points per games, but this year she’s the number three. This is something that I was fortunate enough to be able to observe in my previous years. But, being involved and a major factor has been an amazing experience. We are so eager to find out what we can accomplish this year, I’m sure. 

USA TODAY coaches poll released 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 was in the Coaches Poll less often than last year. This is after the Eagles were 30-3 when the ASUN champion game was canceled.

The Eagles have just completed a 16-0 ASUN slate. This was capped off by sweeps of Liberty and second place Alico Arena. At 23 games, they have the longest winning streak on the road in America.

FGCU will host the ASUN Tournament in Kennesaw, Georgia on Thursday, February 2nd at 2:15 p.m. 8 seed Kennesaw State, or 9 seed Jacksonville 9 seed Jacksonville. These two teams will play Wednesday at 2:05 p.m. Continue the tournament with Friday’s semifinals and Sunday’s title game at 2:05 p.m.

More:Roundup by FGCU: Liberty wins women’s basketball in ASUN finals

More:Basketball: FGCU’s women are ranked first in the USA TODAY Coaches Poll

More:Basketball: FGCU Women win the ASUN Regular-Season title by beating Liberty

The Eagles only loss is to AP’s No. 15 Arkansas in overtime and No. 21 Missouri State at the Gulf Coast Showcase in Alico Arena. Both of these were played without Kierstan bell, an Ohio State transfer, who was given immediate eligibility after just three games. Junior Tyra Cox missed four games because she had a hand injury.

Bell leads ASUN scoring (25.2) as well rebounding (11.0). Cox comes in third scoring (9.4) followed by rebounding (3.9).

Bell and T.K., a junior-college transfer Morehouse, who is a point-guard and averages 17.6 per game, was recently ranked among the best two Division I scoring teams.

Greg Hardwig is the sports reporter at The News-Press (Naples Daily News) and The News-Press. Follow him on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter: @NDN_Ghardwig, email him at [email protected] 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, February 12

Highest vs. lowest, 2 p.m.; Second-highest vs. second-lowest, 7 p.m.

Sunday, 14 March

Championship, 2 p.m.

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