FORT MYERS, Fla. - FGCU's Adrianne McNally and Chelsea Lyles led the Eagles with 22 points and 16 points, repectively, as the Eagles upset the Gators of Florida in front of 2,866 fans in Alico Arena in the 08-09 season-opener.
The Eagles led by as many as 13 points, 71-58, with 11 minutes to go, and survived a UF rally, that found them down two points with less than six minutes remaining. From there, FGCU used their patented outside shooting, especially from Adrianne McNally (Howell, Mich.) who banked in a key 3-pointer as the shot-clock expired with 2:30 left that gave the Eagles an 83-80 advantage.
McNally's shot fired up FGCU and its crowd, which was on its feet for the remainder of the game.
McNally's 22 points were a career-high, while Lyles (Colorado Springs, Col.), who also collected seven rebounds, six assists and three blocks, contributed 16 points in her FGCU debut while hitting 5-of-10 from the field and 4-of-8 from the three-point line. Shannon Murphy (Brighton, Mich.) added 15 points on 6-of-10 shooting, along with a game-high two steals. Courtney Chihil (Tipp City, Ohio) scored 14 points in her collegiate debut for FGCU, which shot 50.0 percent from the floor and hit 12-of-21 three-pointers, while forcing the Gators into 18 turnovers.
The teams traded scores for nearly the first four minutes of the second half, which was great for FGCU, which led UF by nine at halftime.
The Gators then hit back-to-back 3-pointers, as Jennifer Mossor hit from the right side and Steffi Sorensen knocked down one from the top of the arc to pull UF within four, 58-54, with 14:12 remaining.
FGCU followed with five straight points, but Marshae Dotson countered with four consecutive inside the paint and UF was still within five, 63-58, with 12:30 on the clock.
The Eagles then ripped off eight consecutive points thanks to more sharp perimeter shooting, as a pair of treys and a two free throws lifted FGCU to a 71-58 lead with 11:10 remaining.
The Gators refused to go away, as Sharielle Smith, Mossor and Dotson combined to score 18 points during UF’s 18-3 run, capped by a put-back from Smith that gave the Gators a 76-74 lead with 5:40 left.
FGCU tallied the next four on the scoreboard, using the UF's aggressiveness to help them get to the free throw line. Dotson stopped the FGCU run with a jumper in the paint and Kim Critton knocked in a jumper, as UF reclaimed the lead, 80-78.
The next two scores were by FGCU, as McNally launched a 3-pointer that banked in as the shot clock horn went off, giving the Eagles an 83-80 lead with 2:30 on the clock. Smith then grabbed an offensive rebound and scored. Critton then collected a defensive rebound, pushed the ball to Mossor who drove the length of the floor before dishing to Dotson, who finished the play and gave the Gators an 84-83 lead with 1:45 remaining.
FGCU collected a loose ball and McNally capitalized with a layup with 42.2 seconds left to swing the lead back the Eagles, 85-84.
Critton again had an open look, but the FGCU defense caused her to take and miss a tough shot and the Eagles snagged the rebound, as UF was forced to foul. McNally made the Gators pay, draining both from the charity stripe and lifting the Eagles to an 87-84 lead with 22 ticks left and UF couldn’t convert on its end of the floor until one more FGCU free throw, en route to the final decision.
Lyles tallied 13 first-half points to lead the Eagles as FGCU led 45-37 at halftime. The Eagles used sharp outside shooting to build the lead, hitting 53.3 percent (16-30) from the field, including 5-of-10 from the 3-point arc and 8-of-11 from the free throw line.
After the teams traded buckets twice to start the game, FGCU used an 11-0 run over a 3:18 span to take a 13-4 lead just under five minutes into the game. Florida cut the deficit down to four points, but Lyles canned a trey to give the Eagles a seven-point lead.
The teams exchanged field goals, before FGCU marched off a 15-5 run in a little less than six minutes to take a 40-30 lead with 3:07 remaining. The two squads then traded scores for the rest of the half, as the Eagles took the nine-point advantage into the locker room.
FGCU now heads to Tallahassee to take on the Seminoles, in a rematch of last season's home opener. The game is scheduled to start at 2:00 pm on Sunday, November 16.