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Strong second half leads Eagles to win

Playing their second game in less than 24 hours, FGCU struggled mightily against SIU Edwardsville, which came into the game having won only three games, but the Eagles managed to pull away in the second half for a 66-49 win.

FGCU had four different players in double figures, with both Nasrin Ulel and China Dow finishing with 14.  Lisa Zderadicka had 13 off the bench, and Taylor Gradinjan added 12. The Eagles outscored the Cougars 46-22 in the second half to pick up their 12th win of the season.

“I thought right out of halftime the ball started moving quicker, and we became a lot harder to guard,” FGCU head coach Karl Smesko said. “I wish we would already understand this and not take until halftime to figure it out. But it was a good comeback win. I’m really pleased with how we played the second half. I feel better going into break after watching the second half.”

SIU Edwardsville started the game on a 10-4 run heading into the first media timeout, but Zderadicka, Dow, and Tytionia Adderly all scored to put the Eagles up 11-10.

Tied at 12 after the first quarter, the Cougars went up by eight quickly in the second quarter, and FGCU went scoreless for 4:50 at one point in the quarter and trailed by seven into halftime.

“We had to make a lot of changes going into the half,” Gradinjan said. “We had to start sharing the ball, shooting good shots, less dribbling. We went and did it and did what we were supposed to do. “

The second half adjustments under Smesko were right on point as it has been all season, and FGCU hit seven three pointers alone in the third quarter and turned a seven point deficit into an eight point lead with 10 minutes remaining.

SIU Edwardsville got it to a close as five, but FGCU ended the game on a 19-6 run to escape with a home win.

The Eagles will be off until December 29th when FGCU faces off against South Dakota State at 7:30 p.m. at Alico Arena for another two games in two days before FGCU opens conference play versus Stetson.

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