The FGCU women’s basketball team entered the Top 25 this week.
Their stay will be brief.
In perhaps the largest upset in the Atlantic Sun in years, North Florida shocked No. 25 FGCU, winning 75-73 in Jacksonville on Thursday.
North Florida(10-12, 3-4) had never beaten a ranked opponent, the Eagles entering the coaches’ poll on Tuesday, and they hadn’t beat the Eagles in nearly eight years. Their last win came in Jacksonville on Feb. 13, 2010, a 57-56 win. Since then, FGCU had won 17 straight against the Ospreys.
The Ospreys, led by 28 points from Keonna Farmer, shot 51 percent from the floor, including 8-of-11 from three. They also took advantage of an FGCU team playing without leading rebounder Tytionia Adderly, out with an injury suffered against Jacksonville last Saturday, with a 36-26 edge on the glass.
“UNF played a fantastic game,” Eagles coach Karl Smesko said. “We couldn’t guard their posts and when we tried to help they knocked down threes.”
Trailing 69-68 with under 2:00 to go, the Eagles(20-4, 6-1 ASUN) missed a trio of layups in the final minutes, each one more painful than the last.
Lisa Zderadicka missed a runner in the lane with 1:38 left, UNF’s Ty Purifoy responded with a layup. Then China Dow missed at the rim with 1:01 to go. The Eagles got a stop, but Erica Nelson couldn’t connect on an attempt at a quick two with 22 seconds remaining.
From there, the Eagles were forced to foul. Maiya Rumph hit a pair of free throws to make it 73-68 with 18 seconds left.
FGCU still managed a glimmer of hope in the closing seconds, as Farmer missed a pair of free throws that would’ve been the knockout blow. Rosemarie Julien responded with a three, cutting it to 73-71 with 8.5 seconds left. Then the Ospreys nearly threw away in the inbound pass, but it was corralled by freshman Elli Bartley, who attempted – and made – her first collegiate free throws with 6.0 seconds to go to ice it.
Zderadicka hit a meaningless layup as time expired.
Julien led the Eagles with 22 points.
Thursday’s game was the first of two games in Jacksonville, but the game everyone was talking about – against the Dolphins – wasn’t until this weekend. FGCU beat Jacksonville in Fort Myers, 63-58 last week, with the remain scheduled for Saturday. The Dolphins(16-6, 6-1) beat Stetson 73-63 on Thursday, making Saturday’s game a true battle for first place in the conference.
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