ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. - The FGCU women’s basketball team used a 25 point performance from Senior Adrianne McNally to stay within striking distance, but New Mexico held off the Eagles and won 80-64 in a quarterfinal of the Preseason WNIT in front of 6,696 in The Pit.
McNally (Howell, Mich.) led the Eagles with 25 points and six rebounds, while Brittany Brown (Flint, Mich.) finished with 14 points and four boards.
“They did a great job, once we’d make a run, of executing their offense,” FGCU coach Karl Smesko said. “We’d have a defensive breakdown and they’d hit a big shot. They’d answer every time we made a run.”
A layup by Brown and back-to-back-to-back 3-pointers from Shannon Murphy (Brighton, Mich.), Chelsea Lyles (Colorado Springs, Col.) and Kelsey Jacobson (Barnesville, Minn.) cut into a double-digit deficit to bring the Eagles (1-1) within 53-49 with 11:20 left in the game.
New Mexico, a team that likes to run its offense through its post players, had a ton of matchup problems with the Eagles. In their season-opening 81-59 win over Northern Colorado, the Lobos got 24 points from posts Jessica Kielpinski and Valerie Kast. On Sunday, however, Kielpinski got into foul trouble and scored just one point in 16 minutes, and Kast never got off the bench. The Lobos adjusted to the matchup problems, countered with a smaller lineup, and got career highs in points from Sara Halasz and Porsche Torrance, who scored 24 points and 12 points, respectively.
“They changed the matchup with us, which I thought their coach made a really good move with that,” Smesko said. “We had trouble defending that lineup when they were on the floor. I’d never seen them go with that lineup before.”
Both squads shot the ball well in the second half, as New Mexico shot 55.6 percent and FGCU shot 48.3 percent from the field, but the Eagles were outrebounded 42-27 in the game. The +15 rebound advantage helped the Lobos win the second chance point battle.
“We’re not a big team, so we really have to position ourselves and scrap and fight,” Smesko said. “In the first half, we did a pretty good job of boxing out and staying on the boards, but in the second half I didn’t think we were paying attention to our defense and rebounding. It showed and it cost us a lot.”
In the first half, New Mexico led 16-5 before the Eagles went on a 19-3 run, thanks to 11 points from Adrianne McNally (Howell, Mich.), during that stretch, to give FGCU a 24-19 lead. The Lobos responded during the final eight minutes of the opening half by holding the Eagles scoreless and using a 13-0 run to take a 32-24 lead in to the locker room at halftime.
The Eagles will travel to Georgia Tech to play Saturday in the consolation bracket of the Preseason WNIT.
Second round games
Sunday, Nov. 15
Ohio State 91, Bowling Green 72
Oklahoma State 70, Georgia Tech 64
New Mexico 80, Florida Gulf Coast 64
Monday, Nov. 16
Marist at West Virginia, 7 p.m. ET
Wednesday, Nov. 18
Oklahoma State at New Mexico, 9 p.m. ET
Thursday, Nov. 19
Marist-West Virginia winner at Ohio State, 7 p.m. ET
Consolation Round 3 games
Bowling Green vs. Marist-West Virginia loser, site/date TBA
Saturday, Nov. 21
Florida Gulf Coast at Georgia Tech, TBA