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Women’s basketball goes 1-3 at PLAY4KAY Showcase

EN Photo / Brad Young

The FGCU women’s basketball team traveled to Las Vegas to take part in the PLAY4KAY Shootout over the Thanksgiving weekend. The Eagles went 1-3 at the tournament with their only win over DePaul on Thursday.
The Eagles suffered a tough 65-104 loss to Ohio State Friday night and then finished the tournament with a close 65-75 loss to Belmont University.
FGCU started the three-day tournament against DePaul, earning an 89-84 win in overtime. China Dow led the team with a total of 26 points and three steals.
After a strong performance against DePaul, the team then fell victim to a 24-0 run by No. 8 Ohio State in the opening quarter of a 104-62 loss in the semifinals of the Play4Kay Showcase.
Ohio State’s Kelsey Mitchell scored a game-high 34 points and finished 7-for-11 from 3-point range.
FGCU was led by Taylor Gradinjan and Rosemarie Julien, who scored 15 points each and finished 10-for-21 combined from long range.
China Dow had seven points and a team-high five rebounds, while Alyssa Blair finished with six points off the bench.
Ohio State opened up the game strong and then went on a 24-0 run over a 6:35 stretch that the Eagles were never able to recover from.
The Eagles’ offense picked up some in the first half to put them within 24 points at the break.
However, Ohio State closed the fourth quarter on a 19-6 run and led by as many as 48 in the final quarter.
To finish the PLAY4KKAY Showcase, Belmont University defeated the Eagles in a close 75-65 victory.
With the loss, FGCU (6-2) finished fourth among eight teams in the tournament.
“We had too many defensive breakdowns to beat a very good team,” FGCU head coach Karl Smesko said. “Belmont played great basketball and beat us to the ball for extra possessions.”
The offense was led by Erica Nelson, who scored a season-high 19 points Saturday night. Nelson shot 7-for-15 from the field, along with four rebounds and two assists.
Julien shot a perfect 6-for-6 from the field and 4-for-4 from 3-point range to finish with 16 points.
FGCU scored the game’s first four points, but Belmont rallied to take a 14-8 lead. A slow start in the following quarter allowed Belmont to open up a 25-16 lead three minutes in.
Despite points from Julien and Dow, Belmont still took a 36-26 lead going into the break.
Belmont opened up the second half on a 5-0 run to expand its lead, and after Dow fouled out late in the quarter, Belmont led by nine.
Gradinjan’s 3-pointer closed the score to four to open the final quarter, but Belmont went on a 10-0 run to take a 67-53 lead and continued its dominance from there.

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