By Jordyn Matez
The FGCU women’s basketball team achieved its 11th consecutive win when they defeated NJIT 61-42 on Tuesday night, also clinching a home game in the ASUN tournament quarterfinals.
The Eagles went into the game short two starters in Keri Jewett-Giles and Destiny Washington, both out on a one-game suspension due to a violation of the ASUN Code of Conduct after FGCU’s game against Liberty on Saturday.
“Sometimes other people have to step up,” FGCU head coach Karl Smesko said of missing the two starters. “I thought Nas in particular and Lisa had outstanding games. They raised their level of play.”
Lisa Zderadicka, who recently reached 1,000 career points in Saturday’s win over Liberty, led the game with 19 points over 36 minutes. Nasrin Ulel also contributed with double-digit points, earning 16 over 35 minutes.
Defensively, Tytionia Adderly racked up 16 rebounds and two steals, while Zderadicka added four steals.
Overall, the Eagles shot just 36.9 percent from the field, going 24-for-64. The Highlanders went 17-for-54, shooting 31.5 percent overall.
From the three-point line, FGCU saw only 9.1 percent of shots make the net, going 3-for-33.
The first quarter was fairly slow on both ends of the court, much due to a lack of defense from the Eagles early on.
NJIT won the tipoff and quickly put two points on the board in the form of a layup by Milena Bajic, though FGCU’s Ulel responded quickly with a field goal of her own.
There was no superior team in the first ten minutes, with the lead switching back and forth with each point put on the board.
The game continued without much point game on either side, with the first quarter eventually ending 13-12 in favor of the Highlanders.
The second quarter started off showing a bit more promise for the Birds when Zderadicka took back the lead early on, sparking a rise in Eagles offense.
FGCU would come to outshoot NJIT 17-9 in the second quarter, with Zderadicka and Ulel each finding the net from the three-point line and Kerstie Phills contributing a field goal as well.
By the third quarter, FGCU began to stretch their lead due to a weak defensive effort from NJIT, who put themselves at a disadvantage with multiple fouls on the Eagles.
The Eagles outshot the Highlanders 17-10 in the third to stretch their lead to 14 points — a feat that would win them the game.
Though they showed a valiant effort in the final five minutes, the Highlanders were unable to climb back from their deficit and eventually succumbed to the Eagles, who scored 15 on NJIT’s 10 points in the final quarter to come out on top at the end of 40 minutes.
“It was definitely a very close competitive first half,” Smesko said. “I thought we had a nice little surge to start the second half which helped get us the lead into clear double-digits. I thought NJIT played well; I thought they played really good defense on us. Fortunately, our defense was good enough that we were able to get a lead despite not shooting the ball very well.”
Next, the Eagles will travel to Deland, Florida to face Stetson University on Saturday, Feb. 16 at 1 p.m.