FORT MYERS, Fla. – Four Eagles scored in double-figures and FGCU’s strong first half defense led the Blue and Green to a 71-56 victory over the visiting Spartans of USC Upstate in front of 962 fans at Alico Arena.
The Eagles (5-3, 2-0 A-Sun) shot 52-percent from the field (13-for-25) in the first half to open up a 38-22 advantage at the break.
FGCU’s defense stifled Upstate (5-5, 0-2 A-Sun) throughout the first half, holding Upstate to 22 points on 22-percent shooting (6-for-27) while forcing 13 Spartan turnovers.
The two teams played a very evenly matched second half, with Upstate outscoring FGCU, 34-33.
The Eagles opened the game on an 11-0 run, holding the Spartans scoreless until Chelsea McMillan hit a pair of free throws 3:38 into the game (11-2). USC Upstate’s first field goal would not come until over a minute later, when McMillan hit a three-pointer with 15:21 remaining in the half, cutting the FGCU lead to 13-5.
The Eagles cooled off in the second half, shooting 38.5-percent (10-for-26) from the field, while Upstate’s shooting improved to 48-percent (13-for-27).
The Spartans would cut the FGCU lead to eight points (47-39) on a Tee’ara Copney jumper with 11:25 to play. That was as close as Upstate would get, as the Eagles secured their second A-Sun victory on the season, defeating the Spartans 71-56.
Chelsea Lyles (Colorado Springs, Colo.) scored a team-high 16 points, 12 of which came in the first half. Eglah Griffin (Fort Myers, Fla.) added 14 points on 4-of-6 shooting.
Courtney Chihil (Tipp City, Ohio) registered game-highs with 11 rebounds and six steals, in addition to scoring 15 points, including 3-for-3 from behind the arc. Chihil’s six steals are a career-high. Adrianne McNally (Howell, Mich.) chipped in with 11 points, five boards, and four assists.
The Spartans were led by McMillan’s game-high 19 points and nine rebounds, while Copney added 10 points.
FGCU shot 45.1-percent (23-for-51) from the field and 33.0-percent (6-for-18) from behind the arc. Upstate shot 35.2-percent (19-54) from the floor and 28.6-percent (4-for-14) from three-point range.
The Blue and Green finished with season-highs in assists (20) and steals (15).
Next up for the Eagles is a road contest on December 22 at 7 p.m., when FGCU travels to Miami, Fla. to take on the Golden Panthers of FIU. The Eagles return home December 29, when they host the Wildcats of Bethune-Cookman in Alico Arena at 7:05 p.m.