FORT MYERS, Fla. - The FGCU women's basketball team wrapped up the 2007-08 season with the fourth most wins in program history, a second-place finish in the Atlantic Sun and a historic run in the WNIT Tournament. The Eagles racked up 22 wins, 248 steals, 255 three pointers, 444 assists, 1,013 rebounds, 2,027 points, a .347 three-point field goal percentage, a 71-49 win over Conference USA’s Memphis Tigers and a 67-65 victory over the USF Bulls of the Big East Conference in the first round of the WNIT.
According to the American Heritage Dictionary, the word historic means "having importance in or influence on history". The AH Dictionary also states that historic "refers to what is important in history and it is also used to describe something that is famous or interesting because of its association with persons or events in history".
So when it comes to describing FGCU's 2007-08 season in one word … Historic seems perfect.
After starting the season 1-3, including a 93-53 home loss to No. 24 Florida State, an 18-point home loss against Eastern Kentucky in the FGCU Thanksgiving Classic and dropping its first two Atlantic Sun Conference games at Jacksonville and North Florida, FGCU rebounded in amazing fashion.
The Eagles went on to win 17 of in their next 18 games before falling at Florida. During their winning streak, the Eagles picked up a huge victories over A-Sun regular-season and tourney champ East Tennessee State (won 71-66 in Alico Arena) and South Florida in the WNIT first round (67-65 in Alico Arena).
FGCU finished the season with a 22-9 record, which is the program's fourth consecutive 20-win season. The 22 wins also improves Coach Karl Smesko’s career win total to 215 and the program’s win total to 154. The Eagles 13-3 conference mark placed them second in the A-Sun and gave them the WNIT automatic bid when ETSU claimed the Atlantic Sun Conference championship. By earning a spot in the WNIT, the Eagles became the first team in history to play in the WNIT in their first year as a Division I program. No current A-Sun team has won a post-season game as a member of the Atlantic Sun Conference. The last A-Sun team to win a post-season game was FIU in the first round of the 1998 NCAA Tournament, where the Panthers defeated Marquette 59-45. FIU was also the last A-Sun team to win a game in the WNIT. The Panthers defeated Butler 79-75 (OT) in the first round of the 1993 WNIT.
“They made what looked like it would be a very long season at the beginning of the year into a very memorable one for all of us,” said head coach Karl Smesko.
“I’m really proud of our team, especially our four seniors,” said Smesko after the 60-55 loss to Florida in the WNIT. “They made a lot out of this season and committed to making something out of this season after a broken start.”
The senior quartet of Chelsea Dermyer, Ashley Haegele, Amanda Pierce and Delia De La Torre, accounted for 65 percent of FGCU’s points. De La Torre finished the season as FGCU’s leading scorer averaging 15.1 points per game, which ranked her third in the Atlantic Sun. De La Torre finished her career at FGCU with 683 points and a career scoring average of 11.2 points per game, which rank her fourth all-time in both career points and career scoring average. In addition, she proved to be a leader for the Eagles on and off the court as she was named Second-Team All-Atlantic Sun and also received Academic A-Sun honors. De La Torre led the Eagles in the WNIT by averaging 22 points and 8.5 rebounds per game. She also shot 17-of-31 from the field (54.8 percent) and 4-of-12 (33.3 percent) from long range in FGCU’s two games in the tourney.
Dermyer wrapped up the season as the Eagles second leading scorer, averaging 11.1 points per game. Dermyer also led the A-Sun in assists (4.87 per game) and assist-to-turnover ratio (2.44). Dermyer’s accomplishments during the 2007-08 reason included earning A-Sun Player of the Week honors three times, being named Second-Team All-Atlantic Sun and receiving Academic A-Sun honors. With a 4.66 career assists average, Dermyer is first in FGCU history. She is also second all-time with 303 career assists and ninth all-time with 79 career steals.
Haegele, who was a vocal leader for the Eagles, finished her career with 505 points. With a 37.8% career 3-point percentage, Haegele is tied-fourth in FGCU history. She also has 89 career 3-point field goals, which rank her fifth on FGCU’s all-time list.
Pierce started all but three games this season and was second on the team in minutes per game. She sits tied for tenth place on FGCU’s all-time steals list with 71 career steals and she also is fifth all-time in 3-point field goal percentage (37.3%).
FGCU ranked among the A-Sun’s best in several statistical categories, including assist-to-turnover ratio (1st), 3-point FG’s made (1st), scoring defense (2nd), scoring margin (2nd), free-throw percentage (2nd), 3-point FG percentage (2nd) and home attendance (2nd).
Next year, the Eagles look forward to adding to their list of accomplishments. Sophomore Adrianne McNally has the potential to become FGCU’s all-time leading scorer and rebounder. McNally currently has 568 career points and 318 career rebounds. Freshman Shannon Murphy finished the season as the team's sixth leading scorer with 6.2 points per game, and her 35.7 percent 3-point field goal percentage placed her 11th on FGCU single-season record list. Redshirt-Freshman Diana Jacklin will provide the Eagles with height and athleticism when she returns to the floor next season.
In addition to these top returnees, the Eagles will welcome 5-8 guard Kelsey Jacobson, 5-11 forward Kristina Mingos and 5-11 forward Sandra Sormaz, who have all signed National Letters of Intent for next year.