FORT MYERS, Fla. – The FGCU women’s basketball team opened the 2009-10 season Friday night with a 66-54 victory over UTEP in the first round of the Preseason Women’s National Invitation Tournament. Chelsea Lyles led all scorers with 19 points and Shannon Murphy added 15 as the Eagles advanced to the second round of the tournament.
The Eagles jumped out to a big lead early, opening up a 21-4 lead 11 minutes into the game. Shannon Murphy (Brighton, Mich.) knocked down a three-pointer to put FGCU out front 32-8 with just over four minutes to play in the half. The Eagles played stout defense for a majority of the first half, holding UTEP to single digits until the 3:19 mark. But from that point, the Miners went on a bit of a run, cutting the lead down to 36-17 at halftime.
The halftime break did nothing to slow down the Miners, as they continued to chip away at the Eagle advantage, eventually getting as close as six points. But the Eagles hit their stride midway through the second half, outscoring UTEP 14-2 over a span of just over four minutes, stretching the lead to 53-35 with just under eight minutes to play. UTEP would have no answer this time, as the Miners were never able to get the lead back to single digits.
With the win, FGCU advances to the second round of the preseason WNIT, where they will travel to Albuquerque, New Mexico, to take on the University of New Mexico on Sunday at 4 p.m. EST. The Lobos advanced to the second round by virtue of an 81-59 victory over Northern Colorado.
For the Miners (0-1), Jareica Hughes scored a team-high 12 points and recorded a team-high three assists. Timika Williams added eight points and six rebounds, while Ashley Milian pulled down a team high seven rebounds.
For the Eagles (1-0), Chelsea Lyles (Colorado Springs, Colo.) scored a game-high 19 points and grabbed a team-high six rebounds. Shannon Murphy had a solid all-around game, registering 15 points, six boards, five assists, four steals. Brittany Brown (Flint, Mich.) also reached double-figures in scoring with 11 points in 18 minutes of action.