Nelson’s steal seals bounceback win for FGCU women

Lee Herald Favicon 16Erica Nelson stole the ball away from Lakaris Salter with two seconds remaining, and the FGCU women’s basketball team bounced back from a surprising loss on Thursday at North Florida for a 65-63 road win against Jacksonville on Saturday, keeping the Eagles in first place in the Atlantic Sun.

Clinging to a two-point lead, the No. 25 Eagles(21-4, 7-1 ASUN) got a big stop in the closing seconds after Taylor Gradinjan missed a potential dagger three with 23 seconds left.

After inbounding with 14 seconds to go following a timeout, Jacksonville’s Jasmyn Brown dumped the ball off to Salter with seven seconds to go near the hashmark. As Salter attempted to dribble toward the top of the key while guarded by Gradinjan, Nelson swooped in from Salter’s left and poked the ball away, forcing a foul from Salter near midcourt.

The Eagles managed to inbound the ball and run out the clock, maintaining a one-game lead over the Dolphins(16-7, 6-2).

Despite closing the gap to two with a Kayla Gordon layup with 2:01 remaining, the Dolphins managed only two shots at the basket while seeking a chance to tie or take the lead. Naqaiyyah Teague missed a jumper, then after an offensive rebound, Brown missed with 54 seconds left. It would be their last look at the basket.

“I thought the intensity was excellent,” Eagles coach Karl Smesko said. “We were competing. We were pushing. After we got the lead, Jacksonville made a strong push on us. I was just happy to see us make enough plays down the stretch to win the game.”

China Dow led the Eagles with 24 points, while Lisa Zderdicka added 15 points off the bench. The Eagles were once again without leading rebounder Tytionia Adderly, still in the concussion protocol after taking a shot in the last game between the two schools on Jan. 27.

Teague had 15 to lead the Dolphins.

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