FORT MYERS, Fla. - The Florida Gulf Coast University women’s basketball team gained sole possession of first place in the Atlantic Sun Conference with a 73-66 victory over Jacksonville at Alico Arena Saturday afternoon before a crowd of nearly 2,000, extending their conference winning streak to 21 games.
The Eagles (11-3, 6-0 A-Sun) have won seven consecutive games and are now 5-0 against opponents from the state of Florida this season.
Four players were in double figures for the Eagles, who have won 17 consecutive games at Alico Arena dating back to last season. Junior guard Shannon Murphy (Brighton, Mich.) led all scorers with 16 points.
“This was a good win for us,” FGCU coach Karl Smesko said. “Jacksonville is a good team. They were very physical. We were able to make a run at the end of the first half and that was good for us.”
JU (3-11, 2-4 A-Sun) controlled the game early as they took a 10-5 lead 2:34 into the game. FGCU went on a 13-4 run (18-14) to regain the advantage before Jacksonville trimmed the Eagle lead back to one (23-22) with just over seven minutes to play in the first half.
The Eagle defense then stiffened as they held the Dolphins scoreless for the final 6:09 of the first half, going to the locker room with a lead of 14-points (41-27).
The Blue and Green continued the defensive stand again holding JU scoreless for the first 2:36 of the second half, while putting the finishing touches on a 15-0 run giving them a 43-27 lead and complete control of the game.
Jacksonville trimmed the FGCU lead to 69-55 with 4:49 remaining. A bucket by senior Brittany Brown (Flint, Mich.) was quickly followed by an uncontested Adrianne McNally (Howell, Mich.) layup inflating the Eagle lead to 18 (73-55).
The Dolphins did not go down without a fight however as they closed the game on an 11-0 run (73-66).
Sophomore guard Courtney Chihil (Tipp City, Oh.) scored 13 points for the Eagles, while senior forward Chelsea Lyles (Colorado Springs, Col.) and sophomore guard Kelsey Jacobson (Barnesville, Minn.) each scored 11 points and 10 points, respectively. McNally and Brown both chipped in with nine points apiece.
Gigi Thomas led Jacksonville with 15 points.
The Eagles will begin one of their most important road trips of the season this Thursday in Buies Creek, North Carolina when they take on A-Sun Conference foe Campbell University at 5:45 p.m. FGCU then travels to East Tennessee State in Johnson City, Tennessee Saturday at 1:45 p.m.
The Eagles land back at home Thursday, January 21 at 7:05 p.m. when they host the Owls of Kennesaw State University at Alico Arena.