Taking on Harvard for a third career time, the Eagles managed to escape with a 65-56 win at Alico Arena.
“Obviously this was a really completive game,” said head coach Karl Smesko. “I give Harvard a lot of credit. They pounded us on the boards. They just wouldn’t go away. Every time we got a lead, they came right back at us. It all came down to plays in the final minute essentially.”
With the FGCU up 56-55, the Eagles were awarded the ball after a video review from the officials after the ball was said to have gone off Harvard after a missed lay-up.
On the next possession, Taylor Gradinjan, who missed nine of 1her first 10 three pointers from three, hit her second and Lisa Zderadicka’s steal and layup put FGCU up six, as they held on to win pick up their 11th win of the season.
FGCU played the final 37 minutes without top rebounder Tytionia Adderly who felt lightheaded; the Eagles started the night up 10-8 with eight of those points coming from Rosemarie Julien.
Soon after, Jessica Cattani, who led the Eagles in scoring the last two games coming into the night, hit two tree-pointers to put FGCU up six. She would then hit a lay-up and all alone, she sparked an 8-0 run to put FGCU up 18-10.
“When my shot starts getting out of hand, coach tells me about it, and I just try to get to my release every time,” Cattani said. “Thankfully I have been able to get my shot to go down lately. I can’t let a few good games get to me. I just have to keep playing as hard as I can.”
The lead would grow to as many as 10 at one point, but Harvard rallied back and only trailed by four going into halftime.
Erica Nelson and Gradinjan both hit early threes in the third quarter, but the Eagles hit a cold-spell from the field and missed their next seven shots, until Cattani drilled her third three-pointer of the night.
Leading by only one heading into the final quarter, the two teams traded the lead multiple times until FGCU finished the game on a 10-0 run to secure the win.
FGCU will be right back in action on Thursday with the Eagles taking on SIU Edwardsville at 7 p.m. at Alico Arena.