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FGCU women’s basketball cruises past Ave Maria

EN Photo / Brad Young

Coming off of a four game losing streak after dropping three of their games at the Gulf Coast Showcase at Germain Arena, the FGCU women’s basketball team defeated Ave Maria 101-34 at their final game of the showcase.

“We emphasized defensive intensity and positioning heavily this week, and I thought there was definitely a higher energy level and enthusiasm on that side of the ball today,” FGCU head coach Karl Smesko said. “I give Ave Maria credit. They didn’t get down on themselves, and they had a nice run at the end of the game. But, I thought a lot of our kids competed on the defensive end, and that helped us get a big lead early.”

Forcing a DI program record 34 turnovers, the Eagles rode strong play on both ends of the court, holding the Gyrenes to 29 percent shooting from the field, while FGCU enjoyed 56 percent shooting from the clip.

Led by Erica Nelson’s 18 points, Jessica Cattani’s 16 points and China Dow’s 14 points, FGCU hit the triple digit mark for the first time since 2014 when they defeated Ave Maria 102-54.

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Prompted by Taylor Gradinjan’s six steals, the Eagles stole the ball 22 times, with nine of the 12 players hitting the hardwood for FGCU recording at least one steal.

Forcing four turnovers in the opening minutes of the first quarter, leading Ave Maria to call a timeout, the Eagles tallied 14-straight points out of the short intermission to hold a 33-8 lead at the end of one.

FGCU’s dominance on both ends of the court continued in the second quarter, as the Eagles allowed only five field goals en route to scoring 50 points despite knocking down only two shots from long range in the first half.

With a 50-15 lead at the half, the Eagles relentlessly came out of the half scoring 27 straight points while keeping Ave Maria off of the scoreboard for the entire third quarter.

Despite being down 67-15 in the final quarter of play, the Gyrenes went on a 12-5 run, scoring more than half of their points in the final quarter.

Unable to stop the FGCU offense from putting points on the board, allowing them to shoot 62 percent from the field and 43 percent from behind the arc, Ave Maria fell to the Eagles 101-34.

FGCU will now face Siena on Friday, Dec. 9 in the last one of their quick two-game home stand, before hitting the road to face FAU on Sunday, Dec. 11.

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