The Florida Gulf Coast University men’s basketball team isn’t the only team on campus making history; the women are as well. Last Saturday, the Eagles women defeated the University of North Florida by 20 to extend their home conference winning streak to 51 games.
Yes, 51 games. Five one. Cincuenta y uno if you speak Spanish. And if you like to count in Roman numerals that’d be LI. Regardless of how you see or speak numbers, it’s impressive any way you look at it.
Not only is FGCU 59-1 all-time in conference games at home, the Eagles also hold the nation’s longest regular season conference winning streak at 42 games. But in those 51 games, 40 of those wins were by double digits. During the streak of five-plus years, the men have lost a total of 22 conference games at home. Mindboggling. What these girls have done at home is just incredible, and they don’t get the respect they deserve. Granted, everyone is still on an emotional high from last March, but that should not interfere with supporting these girls.
I bet 75 percent of this school didn’t know that the women were this good and they have these streaks.
A crowd of 1,814 witnessed FGCU win its 50th straight conference win at home and just 1,503 witnessed number 51. Seriously? That is way too low. The alternate issue will be brought up next week, because I do not want to take away from what these girls have done in this column.
Back to the streak.
To make a comparison to show how incredible this year is, I looked to see how many conference games UNF, the team FGCU beat Saturday to capture win No. 51, has won since the streak started. So I did the research and found that UNF has won 42 conference games during this time period. That’s home, away and in the tourney.
When I was first accepted at FGCU in 2011, the first thing I did was check how good the athletic teams were. I looked at the men and women’s schedules and saw that clearly our women’s team was the better program, but this was the first time that I’d heard of that.
That has changed some since then, but it’s still not something that is known around the nation. When I get asked about our sports teams here and I mention the success that the women’s team has had in the past, people are kind of shocked to learn about this.
The avid sports fan knows about how good the women’s teams at UConn, Stanford and Tennessee are, but might not realize how much of a hidden gem FGCU is. When they made the tourney in 2012, the nation got a glimpse of what FGCU women’s basketball is and how good the Eagles are. But once they lost in the NCAA tourney to St. Bonaventure, that was it.
They didn’t receive the glory that the men’s team got. Granted, they didn’t make the Sweet 16, but they were the first FGCU team to make an NCAA tourney. They should be the reason that FGCU is on the map, but sadly, they haven’t gotten that recognition.
Don’t get me wrong; I am not taking anything from the men’s team that accomplished so much last year. I am just saying this country as a whole doesn’t really give a crap about women’s basketball. That’s the reason nobody outside of this area, and everyone in the A-Sun, really knows how good FGCU is.
It’s amazing to realize that a player such as redshirt senior Sarah Hansen hasn’t lost a conference game at home in her career. How many players can say that? Not that many. This column and the front page of sports doesn’t do our Eagles justice. I hope that people will see how great this team really is. By the end of the regular season, we could have a new number big and bold in the paper: 55. The streak could even go longer if we host the A-Sun tournament in March.
Let’s just hope people will find out in time.
Head coach Karl Smesko and his players react to a made bucket against Jacksonville. EN Photo/Tessa Mortensen