Last year, the Eagles took a 72-69 loss to Auburn University on the Tigers’ court. This year, the matchup will be hosted at the nest.
In its most recent victory, FGCU stretched its bench to take a 71-70 overtime victory over Quinnipiac. The Eagles hold a three game win streak and a 10-4 season record. The team will look to Whitney Knight — who is recently back on her feet after a left foot injury held her on the sidelines for weeks — for leadership.
Last year’s matchup against Auburn was a showdown between FGCU’s Stephanie Haas and Auburn’s Tra’Cee Tanner. Haas’ 30 game points just weren’t enough to Auburn’s ability to finish.
Auburn shot 52.7 percent from the field and capitalized at the free-throw line, hitting 9-of-11 at the lineup. FGCU, which hit seven 3-pointers in the first half, was held to just 3-of-8 in the final 20 minutes from beyond the arc, as Auburn got several key stops late in the game.
“It was a very good win for our program against a very good Florida Gulf Coast team,” Auburn head coach Terri Williams-Flournoy said. “They are an excellent team and shoot the three extremely well, but in the second half, our team really stepped it up and kept them off of the 3-point line and picked up our defensive effort.”
The tight competition game made it a game of mistakes. Auburn stopped the Eagles by forcing two offensive turnovers in the final 60 seconds and outscored the Green and Blue 6-3 in that span to take the win at home.
“Obviously, we are disappointed in the loss,” said head coach Karl Smesko. “We thought we had a really good opportunity to win today. I give Auburn a lot of credit. They made some plays down the stretch. They made some big baskets, and they stepped in to take two big charges that really were the difference in the game.”
So far this season, Auburn averages 72.8 points per game. The Tigers are shooting 44 percent from the floor. The Eagles have averaged 64.6 points per game through the early season and will need to limit Auburn’s looks at the basket.
FGCU generally out rebounds opponents, taking 38.1 per game and keeping opponents at 35. Auburn have pulled down 39.2 rebounds per contest this season.
Tonight’s game will come down to defense and rebounds for the Eagles, while the Tigers will need to keep FGCU off the arc.
The game tips off at 7 p.m. and will be broadcasted on ESPN3