HOPING TO DANCE
What’s next: The FGCU women could still get an at-large invite to the dance.
When: FGCU will have to wait until Monday, March 18 to see if its name is called.
Coach Smesko’s comment: “I’ve had a few people tell me it’s possible, and we’re hopeful that’s the case. It would be a great thing for our conference, that’s for sure. I know that we have a team that can win games in the NCAA Tournament. Now it’s just a matter of the committee is going to have to look real closely at what we’ve done.”
Postseason alternatives: The Lady Eagles would almost be guaranteed a spot in the WNIT.
MACON, Ga. — Florida Gulf Coast University women’s basketball’s Joyce Iamstrong had a career night. Yet, she would trade her Most Valuable Player Award for a conference championship.
FGCU’s second-half meltdown overshadowed Iamstrong’s prolific performance.
In the 70-64 loss to Stetson in the Atlantic Sun Championship, the senior guard scored a career-high 31 points and sank six 3-pointers. She averaged 25.3 points during three tournament games after scoring just 10.7 points in the regular season.
“She is playing the best basketball of her career right now,” Eagle head coach Karl Smesko said after the team’s championship game loss.
Iamstrong, a 64 percent 3-point shooter in the tournament, earned the ball for the game’s final shot. She received that look on the left wing for the Eagles’ last shot of the game with 13 seconds remaining. Her shot fell flat.
“I was open, but I couldn’t knock it down,” Iamstrong said.
Before this week, the Chicago native had just two 20-point games in her two years at FGCU. She had at least 22 in every A-Sun tournament game.
Defeated, Iamstrong revealed a blank reaction when she received the A-Sun Tournament MVP trophy.
“I gave it my all today,” a soft-spoken Iamstrong said.
The Stetson defense took away the long range shots from Iamstrong after she converted a career-high sixth 3-pointer at the 15:19 mark of the second half giving the Eagles a 14-point lead.
Stetson surged back in the late stages of the game to take a 66-64 lead with 21 seconds remaining.
Heading into the A-Sun tournament, Iamstrong was an unlikely MVP candidate.
The Eagles all-time leading scorer, Sarah Hansen, averaged 17 points per game in the regular season, however, the redshirt junior saw that number drop to 10.7 points in tournament play.
The Eagles had to look for additional offense elsewhere with Hansen’s numbers down.
Iamstrong became the team’s most consistent scorer, seeing her point totals jump to a 25.3 average in postseason. The 5-foot-9 senior scored 23 in the quarterfinals, breaking her previous best of 20, and nearly broke a tournament record for shooting in the semifinals.
She converted all nine of her attempted shots, leading the Eagles to victory against North Florida. She missed tying the record by one attempt.
Former Georgia Southern player Phylette Blake earned the record in 1988 with 10 perfect shots.
Iamstrong will play at least one more collegiate game in her career. FGCU is guaranteed to play in the WNIT, but the Eagles are still hoping for an at-large bid for the NCAA tournament.