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FGCU Basketball Prepares for ASUN Tournament

After finishing the regular season with a 27-4 (13-1) record, the (1) FGCU Women’s Basketball team gets set to play in the ASUN tournament starting on Friday at 7 P.M. at Alico Arena.

“We wanted to make sure we were in a position to get a number one seed for the tournament,” said head coach Karl Smesko. “We definitely think it is an advantage to play here.”

A season that started so well for the Eagles with wins over two ranked opponents in Kentucky and DePaul carried over into conference play where FGCU won the ASUN Regular Season Championship.

The lone loss in conference came from the hands of UNF in Jacksonville, but the Eagles defeated everybody else, including second place Jacksonville, in two tight games.

In their opening game, they will take on (8) NJIT. The Highlanders finished the regular season with a 4-25 (2-12) record, which was last in the ASUN. In the two meetings this season, FGCU won by an average of 35 points including a 46-point win in Newark.

Both Kelly Guarino and Tatianna Torres averaged more than 10 points a game compared to the Eagles that also have two in Rosemarie Julien and China Dow. However, Taylor Gradinjan and Nasrin Ulel averaged just below 10 points per game at 9.9 and 9.6 respectively, thanks in large part to the 1,086 three-pointers attempted this season.

“They’re pretty good,” said senior China Dow. “They’re a solid team. We played them and beat them, so it’s NJIT. We still have to play our game and do the things we need to do. We can’t just relax on them, but we can beat them.”

In the same section of the bracket, (4) Lipscomb will play (5) USC Upstate for the right to play either the Eagles or the Highlanders. The Bisons and the Spartans split their previous two meetings this season, with both teams winning by at least 19 points at home. Loren Cagle of Lipscomb leads the league with 17.6 points per game.

On the bottom half of the draw, (2) Jacksonville, whose only two losses in conference play came from FGCU, will play (7) Kennesaw State. (3) Stetson will be playing (6) UNF as well. Both the Dolphins and the Hatters swept the season series during the regular season.

The semi-finals of the ASUN tournament is scheduled for Wednesday, Mar. 7 and the finals on Sunday, Mar. 11.

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