FORT MYERS, Fla. – The Florida Gulf Coast University women’s basketball team won their sixth consecutive game with a 58-47 victory over the University of North Florida on Thursday night at Alico Arena. The Eagles launched 44 three-point attempts, two shy of the school record set just three days earlier.
With the win, the Eagles improve to 10-3 overall (5-0 A-Sun) while the Ospreys fall to 4-10 overall (1-4 A-Sun). The win also marks the 20th consecutive conference victory for FGCU, whose last conference loss came 364 days ago against ETSU on Jan. 8, 2009 (75-67).
FGCU opened the game with an 18-5 run over the first 8:42, capped by back-to-back threes from Adrianne McNally (Howell, Mich.) and Brittany Brown (Flint, Mich.). UNF would trim the lead down to just five points (31-26) with their own 9-3 run to close out the first half.
Head coach Karl Smesko commented, “Our defensive intensity dropped and UNF took advantage and made a run. We gave up too many layups and let them back in the game at the end of the half.”
The Ospreys scored first with 19:01 remaining in the second half, cutting the lead to a meager three points (31-28). FGCU answered back with a 9-2 run to regain a double-digit lead (40-30) with 14:18 remaining.
The Blue and Green maintained a comfortable lead until UNF’s Shennette Sheffield scored with 2:35 left in the contest, cutting the lead to eight points (52-44). Shannon Murphy (Brighton, Mich.) again answered back with a three-pointer on FGCU’s next possession to reestablish the double-digit cushion (55-44). The Eagles would go on to win by 11 points (58-47) earning their fifth conference victory of the season.
Both teams shot below 40-percent for the game, with the Eagles finishing at 31.1-percent (19-61) and the Ospreys finishing at 39.5-percent (17-43).
FGCU attempted 44 three-pointers, converting 12 (27.3-percent), led by Murphy’s 5-of-15 effort from behind the arc. The Ospreys finished 4-of-7 (57.1-percent) from three-point land.
Smesko talked about the three-point shooting, saying, “We work hard on those shots in practice, and we have a number of quality three-point shooters on our team, so that’s what we’re going to do. We are one of the best three-point shooting teams in the country, but I would like to see our shooting percentage improve from where it’s at right now.”
Murphy led all scorers with 17 points, and Brown added 10. McNally and Courtney Chihil (Tipp City, Ohio) also chipped in with nine points apiece.
Arlande Cherizol led the Ospreys with eight points and nine rebounds.
“When you hold a team under 50 points and force 20 turnovers, you’ve got to be pretty happy,” commented Smesko. “Our conference season is going to be tough. There are too many good teams for anybody to go undefeated, but I am glad that we are at least off to a good start.”
The Eagles wrap up their two-game home stand as they take on the Dolphins of Jacksonville University Saturday January 9 at 2:05 p.m. Saturday’s game will be Dollar Night, with general admission tickets, sodas, hot dogs, and popcorn available for only $1.