Photo by Linwood Ferguson.
During a dominant 97-60 win over the East Tennessee State Buccaneers, the Florida Gulf Coast Eagles broke the NCAA Division I record for most 3-pointers made in a single game.
Records are made to be broken, and in their 97-60 dismantling of East Tennessee State, Florida Gulf Coast broke the NCAA record for most threes in a single-game. But if prior to the season one would’ve said that this year’s FGCU team -- a team with seven newcomers -- would break that record, many would’ve been surprised by such a prognostication.
Yet, what makes FGCU so unique is that their head coach’s mentality for excellence exceeds the status quo -- he wouldn’t have been taken aback by such a proclamation
"Well, I wouldn’t have been quite as surprised as (many) would think," said FGCU coach Karl Smesko. "We do have a lot of good 3-point shooters on the team. We do work to get a lot of open three opportunities. If some people would’ve told me at the beginning of the season we would’ve had some of the negative shooting performances that we’ve had, I would have been more surprised [about that] than being surprised that we broke the record."
Rightfully so, if you look at FGCU’s recent past, Smesko’s assertion not only makes a lot of sense but it’s validated by the track record. The cerebral architect of the Eagles' high powered motion-offense has set a unique precedent for unparalleled accomplishments.
Former FGCU star Kelsey Jacobsen echoed those same sentiments of her former coach. The Atlantic Sun’s all-time three point leader was there during the Division I transition years for the Eagles. Ironically, she wasn’t the least bit astonished either when asked about her alma mater’s achievement.
"I am one proud alum," said an excited Jacobsen. "Honestly, I’m not (surprised), I remember him [saying while I was a player], ‘Why limit yourself to shooting 40% at the three-point line, why don’t you expect to shoot 50%?’ Smesko works individually with every player constantly working on (their) shot. I just know for them to go out there and hit that many shots, they expect to do that. I’m just very proud of them.
"I’ve been around the arena a little bit and I still talk to some of the girls, they’ve been doing shooting workouts (and) what’s kind of funny was they did a drill that I remember from when I was there -- they [haven’t done it] all year. They did that drill just a couple of days ago and when I read [they broke the record]; I got a smirk on my face and couldn’t help but smile."
There are certain things that can give you a glimpse of what’s to come: track records and patterns. They usually are a great way to forecast the future. And even though this prestigious record was broken on Saturday, it started just a few years back:
- Two years ago in 2010-11, they made 20 three-pointers against Mercer.
- Last year they one upped themselves by making 21 three-pointers against Webber International -- and tying the NCAA single-game record.
- And then you had this year’s feat against East Tennessee State.
The catalyst for the record setting 3-point barrage started with a newcomer, redshirt senior Betsy Adams. Adams wasn’t even supposed to be at Florida Gulf Coast this year, but amid circumstances, she fell into the proverbial lap of the Eagles. Once Adams was inserted into the game early on, the transfer from Valparaiso was unconscious -- so much so that she scored 16 consecutive points for the Eagles.
"It’s pretty awesome," said Adams. "Coming from what I went through at Valparaiso -- pretty unsuccessful there - and to come to a winning program that has a lot of history. It took me awhile to get the system down, but I think we’re making strides here. It’s really exciting to be apart of (history)."
Then another unlikely source joined the party, Anthi Chatzigiakoumi -- the 6-foot-1 sophomore from Greece. She was starting her first career game and Chatzigiakoumi didn’t disappoint, scoring 15 points while making three 3-pointers of her own.
"I was very excited because it was the first time (starting)," said Chatzigiakoumi. "By the time I got on the court, I forgot everything -- and I was just trying to be focused on the game. (It) was very exciting [breaking the record], I couldn’t believe it."
As they continued their offensive downpour in the second-half, the Eagles inched closer to history and with 6:44 left in the game -- destiny was within their grasp.
Yet there still needed to be one person to break the record, to make that final shot. Insert freshman, Amanda Moore, a talented shooter from Seymour, Indiana. Moore had originally signed to play with Loyola-Marymount, but changed her mind once the Lions got a new head coach -- thus deciding to make the trek to the Fort Myers campus to soar with the Eagles.
So it would be fitting that one of FGCU’s late signees would unknowingly finish the task. When she made the record breaking three, Moore saw the exuberance and excitement coming from the bench and was congenially perplexed by the euphoria -- she had no inkling of what just transpired.
"I didn’t know that we were even close to the record," said Moore. "I didn’t even know about the record, [my teammates] were going crazy and I had no idea why. I just thought ‘Hey, they are happy for me, that’s great!’ When I first heard about it, I was just pumped. To be apart of that is pretty amazing. I didn’t know about the record at all."
What makes this performance so remarkable was that out of the 22 three-pointers made, 17 were made by the newcomers. And the one person who was the happiest: redshirt junior and All-Conference guard Sarah Hansen. Hansen has experienced a lot of success in her time with the Eagles; however, the elation she exuded when describing how her young teammates performed spoke volumes.
"Towards the end of the game, a couple of us knew we were getting close," said Hansen. "We were pretty much dying to break the record, and then when we finally hit that 22nd three, we all were jumping up, and it was pretty awesome!
"I mean anytime when we can break records is an amazing thing," said Hansen. "But then to have such a young team -- we haven’t shot as well as we have in the past and then all of a sudden to come out and have a night where we lit it up, it’s really exciting. The fact that we had so many different people all involved in it."
When you have so many different combinations of players working together harmoniously, great things can happen, better yet a "perfect storm."
"It was surreal to watch," said FGCU Assistant Director of Communications Michael Hill II.
With such a blueprint for success, and so many of these newcomers gaining experience, don’t be surprised if they threaten this record again in the near future. The forecast is not only bright in Fort Myers; the forecast is really bright and sunny for the FGCU basketball team going forward.
"FGCU is on the map, constantly making strides (and) getting the name out there -- making people recognize," said Jacobsen "It’s just nice to see the (success) still going. They’re still going to keep making strides and hopefully this program (will) continue to impact the NCAA."