Eagles Women's Basketball Upsets Rollins in NCAA First Round
ARKADELPHIA, Ark. – Senior guard Ebonie Halliburton sank two free throws with 0.2 seconds remaining in overtime to give Florida Gulf Coast University a 48-46 win over Rollins College in a first-round NCAA Division II South Region Tournament game Friday afternoon.
The game was a defensive battle between two teams ranked among the top-11 teams in the nation. The No. 11 Eagles held the No. 9 Tars to their lowest point total of the season. The Tars hit just 17-of-67 from the floor (18.8%), including just 2-of-19 from beyond the three-point arc.
“We won this game based on our defense,” said Eagles head coach Karl Smesko, whose team has now won 17 consecutive games. “These ladies were so ready to play. We were real intense on defensive and though we got some good looks at the basket, maybe too aggressive on offense. Hopefully Saturday we can be more relaxed.”
FGCU hit just 20% from the floor in the game but hit the big shots when it counted. Tied at 36-36 at the end of regulation, Rollins scored the first four points of overtime for a 40-36 lead. After Halliburton (East St. Louis, Ill.) hit 1-of-2 from the line to cut it to 40-37, the senior stole the ball from Tars standout Larissa McDonough and junior forward Alex Nelson (Edinburgh, Scotland) nailed a three-pointer from the right wing to tie the game at 40-40. Four more free throws from Halliburton, who hit 7-of-8 from the stripe in the overtime session, and a driving shot by Jessica Hathaway gave FGCU a 46-42 lead with 1:11 left to play.
After Rollins tied the game at 46-46 with nine seconds to play, Halliburton missed a driving lay-up in traffic and McDonough rebounded for the Tars. But Eagles senior Candy Myers (Leipsic, Ohio) stole the outlet pass and fed Halliburton underneath the basket with time running out as Rollins’ Jennifer Musgrove fouled Halliburton.
“It was a great play by Candy to make the steal,” said Halliburton. “I was happy to have the ball in my hands. In overtime, I knew I had to drive to the basket and make some plays.”
Junior forward Katie Schrader (Fort Collins, Colo.) led FGCU with her sixth double-double of the season as she posted a game-high 14 points and 15 rebounds. Halliburton finished with 13 points and seven rebounds.
Sophomore Jessica Hathaway (Fort Wayne, Ind.) held Rollins’ Joslyn Giles, the Sunshine State Conference Player of the Year, to just seven points. Musgrove led Rollins (29-2) with 13 points.
The regional semifinal game will be broadcast live via Stretch Internet, FGCU’s official web cast provider, on the FGCU website. Click on the link on the athletics home page.