More Florida haters await as women’s basketball heads to Stetson, FGCU

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — The Bellarmine University women’s basketball team is set for a two-game tour of the Sunshine State as the Knights head to Stetson for a contest on Thursday night before trading defending champion FGCU to ASUN for a crash on Saturday night.

Riding a three-game winning streak, Bellarmine (7-13, 3-4 ASUN) will take on both Stetson (8-12, 2-5) and FGCU (18-3, 6-1) at 7 pm ( ET) on respective game days in DeLand and Fort Myers.

Bellarmine will face its third and fourth straight opponent from the Sunshine State. In last week’s conference action, the Knights defeated North Florida 65-59 and Jacksonville 66-54 at Freedom Hall. Those followed an 85-77 win over visiting Eastern Kentucky, as BU’s three-game winning streak is the longest in the Division I era since the Knights won four straight in 2020-21.

Succeeding on the road is the next big step for Bellarmine’s rise. The Knights captured a neutral-site win over St. Bonaventure at host Cleveland State in late November, but are still aiming for their first true road win of the season. BU has risen to seventh place in the 14-team ASUN.

Stetson looks to break a three-game skid. The Hatters fell 77-75 on Saturday in Queens after their apparent game-winning three-point shot as timeout expired was ultimately overturned when officials ruled the shot came after the buzzer sounded. The contest was the quintessential tale of two halves, as Stetson led 42-28 at halftime before Queens outscored the Hatters 49-33 in the second half.

Khamya McNeal and Jaelyn Talley combined for 42 points for Stetson, with McNeal adding 22 points in the game and Talley registering 20. Talley is the team’s leading scorer at 11.1 points per game and McNeal has 10.7. Jamiya Turner (11.0) has played in six games this season, the most recent six, scoring in double figures in five of them.

FGCU will host Eastern Kentucky on Thursday before welcoming Bellarmine. The defending ASUN regular season and ASUN Tournament champion is coming off his first league loss, 88-78 in overtime at Liberty, after winning six straight to open conference action.

FGCU, which has earned eight NCAA Tournament berths since 2012, is tied with Austin Peay and Lipscomb for the top of the ASUN rankings. The Eagles’ powerhouse attack ranks first in the conference in field goal percentage (46.6), 3-point percentage (36.5) and 3-pointers made (233) and is second in scoring (77.1).

Tishara Morehouse was voted ASUN Pre-Season Player of the Year. The point guard ranks second in ASUN in scoring (16.3) and ninth in assists (3.6). Alyza Winston is one of the top 10 scorers in the league, ranking eighth with 13.8 points per game. Led by Morehouse’s 41, six Eagles have made 21 or more 3-pointers this season.

of Bellarmine grace merkle is the two-time reigning ASUN Player and Freshman of the Week. The 6-foot-6 center has swept both awards three times this season. He is now a six-time ASUN Freshman of the Week. In wins over North Florida and Jacksonville, Merkle averaged 25.0 points and 18.0 rebounds. He racked up a program-high 24 rebounds against the Dolphins and scored 29 points.

Merkle is the national leader in field goal percentage (73.2). In addition to FG percentage, he leads ASUN in rebounding (11.2) while ranking second in blocked shots (2.5) and third in scoring (16.0). He also leads the conference in double-doubles with 13.

senior striker Sheniqua Coatney he has scored in double figures in five straight games and recorded eight or more rebounds in four of those outings along with six assists against Jacksonville. second year guard Hayley Harrison he had career-highs of four blocks and seven assists against Jacksonville while adding 11 points, the fourth double-digit outing in the last five games for the team’s second-leading scorer (10.3).

Bellarmine leads ASUN in blocks (5.2 per game) and ranks second in rebound margin (plus-5.1). The Knights ranked 8th and 12th (last) in those two categories last season.

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