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FGCU women’s basketball upsets No. 20 Kentucky

Friday night, the FGCU women’s basketball team secured its second top twenty-five win against No. 20 Kentucky this season. Paced by Rosemarie Julien’s 23 points and Lisa Zderadicka’s 13 points and crucial three-point shooting late in the game, FGCU shocked the Kentucky Wildcats 70-64.  

The last time FGCU played a ranked team at home was in 2007 versus No. 19 Florida State, where the Eagles were defeated, 93-53.  

“The first segment we started off rattled. We couldn’t catch the ball, we couldn’t dribble it. We were just a little on edge,” head coach Karl Smesko said. “I thought Lisa (Zderadicka) came in and really settled us down, got some easy baskets off attacks. I thought her coming and making the impact she did right when she got in the game helped everything just smooth out for us.” 

Taylor Murray converted on the first bucket of the game, putting the Wildcats up 2-0.  

Taylor Gradinjan, who surpassed the 1,000 point mark in Tuesday night’s victory versus Southeastern, evened the score at 12 with a three-ball.  

In the second quarter, the Eagles grabbed the momentum, as Gradinjan’s long-ball put the Eagles ahead by five, 21-16. China Dow would convert on her free-throw attempt, pushing the lead.  

Julien’s fast break layup in the closing seconds gave FGCU a nine-point lead, heading into the half 35-26.  

Coming out of the break, Erica Nelson capitalized on a three-ball of her own as FGCU stretched the lead to double-digits for the first time on the night, 38-26. 

Alyssa Rice’s layup was in the midst of a Kentucky 7-0 run, bringing the Wildcats right back in the ballgame 46-40.  

With FGCU leading 57-53 late in the fourth quarter, Kentucky was able to even the score at 57. However, the Eagles had a 9-0 scoring run, two coming from long range, allowing FGCU to take a comfortable 66-57 lead. 

The Wildcats were able to get within striking distance for the second time in the period, as FGCU led by only one possession (66-64) with under a minute to go.  

Yet, two free-throws from Julien and Gradinjan secured the upset victory.  

Next, the Eagles will host undefeated Ave Maria Sunday, Dec. 10 with tip-off at 2 p.m.  

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