The moniker for the FGCU women’s basketball team is “Raining Threes.”
Stetson needed an umbrella.
The Eagles unleashed a torrent on the Hatters, ending the first half on a 20-2 run including six three pointers, never looking back en route to an 80-40 Atlantic Sun conference opening win over Stetson on Saturday.
“I thought that was one of our best defensive efforts of the year, I’ve only seen a couple times this season where we’ve played with that kind of intensity as tonight,” FGCU coach Karl Smesko said. “It was an excellent effort, everybody contributed.”
Against the Hatters, the preseason second-place team as chosen by the media, the Eagles sent a message to the rest of the ASUN.
“We wanted to make a statement,” guard Rosemarie Julien said, who had 12 points. “Not just that it was Stetson but we’ve been practicing for a very long time and working very hard, and we needed to make sure that we showed you guys how hard we’ve been working.”
The Eagles were leading 18-15 midway through the second period when they turned on the afterburners. Erica Nelson had just been called for a technical foul – she said she was asking for a travel call – and Stetson’s McKenna Beach missed both freebies.
Julien responded by kicking off a stretch of four threes in a row for the Eagles, following a China Dow miss. Then Lisa Zderadicka hit one, then Tytionia Adderly, then Nasrin Ulel. Suddenly, it was 30-15 Eagles. When Julien ended the run, with yet another three with 16 seconds left in the half, the Eagles had opened up a 38-17 lead at the break, hitting six threes, and seven out of their last eight shots of the half in a span of just under six minutes.
“We obviously had a big advantage at the three-point line, we shot a good percentage from three and we limited their three-point shooters’ looks,” Smesko said. “It was a great game for us, it’s just a matter of can we remember its one game and you’ve got to go out the next game and prove again you can play defense like that and play together like that.”
The flood didn’t let up either, as the Eagles led by as many as 30 in the third period before they began to work the reserves into the game, who still had no problem running it up on the Hatters. Seldom-used sophomore Chandler Ryan entered the game in the fourth and hit three straight threes, as the Eagles continued to pour it on.
Tytionia Adderly led the Eagles, scoring 21 points and 13 rebounds. Perhaps the most emphatic statement about just how good this Eagles team, and pretty much summed up the game came from Adderly to open the second half. Adderly drove to the basket, missed, but between three Stetson defenders, pulled down the rebound and put it back for the bucket.
“It was very important [to start off conference play 1-0], especially against Stetson. They’re our archrival,” Adderly said. “The win was great for all of us, and it’s a boost to keep playing and keep winning in conference play.”
The Eagles were dominant in every phase of the game. They held to Hatters to 36 percent from the field, and it only got that high because the Hatters hit their final five shots. They outrebounded the Hatters 41-22, including 12-5 on the offensive glass. FGCU led 13-0 in second chance points.
“We couldn’t do anything right offensively, couldn’t hit a free throw, couldn’t make a layup,” Stetson coach Lynn Bria said. “They’re a good team, they’re very, very good, but we expected that. They didn’t do anything we didn’t expect. But we just couldn’t do anything right, couldn’t generate any offense at all.”
The thing about FGCU, especially a team coached by Smesko, is they’re going to take away what you’re best at. Brittney Chambers entered the game averaging 16.6 points per game, she finished with 11, but had just two in the first half.
Third leading scorer Beach was held to five points, and second leading scorer Kennedi Colclough, who came in averaging 13.7 points per game, missed her first eight shots from the field, finishing with just two points.
“We definitely wanted to contain their best players, and it takes a team effort,” Smesko said. “[Nelson] did a great job on Chambers, she’s a great scorer. Rose did a tremendous job on McKenna, and then Ty and [Taylor] Gradinjan combined to do a great job on Kennedi, who’s had a great season so far.”
NUMBERS TO KNOW
40 – 40 points is the largest margin of victory for FGCU over Stetson in the history of the series between these two teams. The previous largest win was a 67-39 win over the Hatters on Mar. 3, 2012, in the ASUN tournament final.
21 – Tytionia Adderly finished one point off a career-high, and recorded her second double-double of the season.
0 – The Eagles held Stetson to zero second chance points, and zero fast break points. They also held a 23-8 edge in points off turnovers.
USC-Upstate, Jan. 15
at Kennesaw State, Jan. 20
Lipscomb, Jan. 22
Jacksonville, Jan. 27
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