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FGCU Drops Heartbreaker to Florida, 74-69, in WNIT
FORT MYERS, Fla. – Junior Courtney Chihil (Tipp City, Ohio/Alter HS) scored a game-high 19 points to lead three FGCU players in double figures, as the FGCU women’s basketball team dropped a highly competitive game to SEC foe Florida, 74-69, in front of a Alico Arena record crowd of 4,543 in the second round of the WNIT on Monday night.
With the win the Gators improve to 20-14 overall, while the Blue and Green fall to 28-4 overall and have their 42-game home winning streak snapped. The Eagles are now 3-4 all-time in the WNIT, including 3-1 at home, and have made it to the second round of the postseason tournament two out of the last three years.
The Blue and Green, who lead the nation in three-point field goals per game (10.9), knocked down 11 triples on the night. FGCU ends their four-year Division I transition period with four automatic bids to the WNIT, two Atlantic Sun regular season crowns and an overall record of 100-25.
Chihil finished with a game-high 19 points on 6-of-11-shooting from the floor and 4-of-7 from long distance. The Tipp City, Ohio native also added three assists and three steals. Redshirt-freshman Sarah Hansen (Edinboro, Pa./General McLane HS) registered 11 points, three assists and a pair of boards. Junior Eglah Griffin (Fort Myers, Fla./Dunbar HS/Seminole CC) chipped in with 10 points and three boards, while junior Kelsey Jacobson (Barnesville, Minn./Moorhead HS) and senior Shannon Murphy (Brighton, Mich./Brighton HS) each finished with nine points. Jacobson also added four assists and four rebounds in 36 minutes of action.
Jaterra Bonds led the Gators with 19 points off the pine, while Deana Allen contributed 17 points and three assists.
Florida jumped out to a quick 8-4 lead, capped by a layup from Jennifer George. The Eagles responded with a 16-4 run of their own, highlighted by back-to-back triples from Murphy, to grab a 20-12 lead with 11:58 left in the opening half.
The Gators responded in a big way, employing a 10-3 run to cut the FGCU lead down to 23-22 with 8:42 left in the opening 20 minutes.
After Jackson’s three-pointer pushed the Blue and Green’s lead back to four points (26-22), the Eagles outscored Florida 18-14 to closeout the half to take a 41-36 lead into the intermission.
The Gators shot 16-of-30 (53.3 percent) from the field and 3-of-9 (25.0 percent) from behind the arc in the first half. FGCU hit 15-of-29 (51.7 percent) from the floor in the first half, including 7-of-14 (50 percent) from long distance.
After Deana Allen opened the second half with a jumper to cut the FGCU lead to 41-38, the Eagles used a 10-4 spurt to grab their largest lead of the game (9 points), 51-42, and forced the Gators to call a timeout.
UF responded quickly out of the timeout, using a 11-0 run take a 53-51 lead with just under 12 minutes left in regulation.
Trailing 63-62 with 5:46 remaining, Florida got a pair of buckets from Azania Stewart and a jump shot from Jennifer George to grab their largest lead of the game, 68-63.
Jaterra Bonds split a pair of free throws to give UF a 69-65 lead with just 1:46 left in the game. On the next FGCU possession, Chihil came off a screen and buried a triple to pull the Eagles within one-point, 69-68.
Florida responded with a layup from Lanita Bartley to push ahead of the Eagles, 71-68. Chihil drove to the basket on FGCU’s next possession and drew a foul on George. After Chihil split a pair at the charity stripe (71-69), the Gators went on to hold off the Blue and Green over the final 46 seconds to pick up the 74-69 win. The game featured six lead changed and eight ties, including five of each in the second half. FGCU’s edge, as usual, came from behind the arc where they outscored the Gators 33-9. Florida made up for it by owning a 29-11 advantage in bench points and a 12-3 edge in second chance points.
Fans who attended the FGCU/UF WNIT game can turn in their ticket stubs at tomorrow’s baseball game at Swanson Stadium against USF and get in free. First pitch is set for 6:30 p.m.