MACON, Ga. – Senior Chelsea Lyles scored 20 points and grabbed a career-high 18 rebounds to record her first double-double of the season as the Florida Gulf Coast University women’s basketball team picked up a 67-62 victory over Mercer at the University Center on Monday night.
With the loss the Bears fall to 11-10 overall (8-4 A-Sun), while the Eagles improve to 17-4 overall (12-1 A-Sun) and retain sole possession of first place in the Atlantic Sun, leading East Tennessee State by a half-game.
FGCU led 12-9 with 15:47 remaining in the first after a Lyles (Colorado Springs, Col.) three-pointer, before the Bears responded with an 11-0 run to take a 20-12 lead with 11:59 left in the first half.
Mercer’s first run came to an end when Kelsey Jacobson (Barnesville, Minn.) found a wide open Lyles, who drained a three-pointer. The Blue and Green used the momentum from Lyles’ trey to fuel their own 19-4 run helping the Eagles regain the lead (31-24) with 5:45 left in the first. FGCU’s 19-4 run was highlighted by three layups and a pair of steals from Shavonne Butler (New Orleans, La.).
Mercer would close out the final 4:29 of the first half, responding to the Eagles with an 8-2 run of their own, cutting the Blue and Green’s lead down to one point (33-32) headed into the halftime break.
FGCU extended their lead to six points (40-34) with 17:53 remaining in the second, only to see the Bears regain a one-point advantage (42-41) after a pair of layups by Courtney Ford, two free-throws from Lacy Ramon, and a jumper from Kourtney Carter.
Trailing 47-44, FGCU Head Coach Karl Smesko was whistled for a technical foul at the 12:01 mark after Lyles was hit in the face without any call from the referees. The technical by Smesko seemed to fuel the Eagles, as they went on a 15-4 run taking a 59-51 lead with 9:10 remaining in the game.
The Blue and Green would turn up their defensive pressure and extend their lead to 10 points after a layup by Courtney Chihil (Tipp City, Ohio) with 4:15 remaining.
Again, Mercer responded to the FGCU spurt with yet another run of their own. The Bears used a 7-0 run to cut the Eagles lead to just three points (65-62) with 2:50 remaining in regulation.
Neither team would find the bottom of the bucket over the final 2:47 until a pair of free-throws from Lyles with three seconds remaining secured FGCU’s 67-62 victory.
Chihil (12 points) and Lyles both scored in double figures for the Eagles. Lyles recorded a double-double with 20 points, on 6-of-12 shooting from the field and 3-of-8 shooting from behind the arc, and a career-high 18 rebounds. Lyles now ranks second in program history for the most rebounds in a single game. Robin Swain still holds the FGCU record with 21 rebounds in a game, a record that has stood since 2003.
Courtney Ford led the Bears with 18 points and 10 rebounds, while Lacy Ramon chipped in with 16 points and five boards in only 21 minutes.
The Eagles are back in action this Thursday (Feb. 4) when they host East Tennessee State in the first game of a double header with men’s basketball. Tip-off for the women’s game is scheduled for 5:15 p.m. at Alico Arena.