A capitol comeback for FGCU
A weak night on the boards didn’t keep FGCU from taking the win over powerhouse George Washington Thursday evening.
Giving up 14 second chance points, 8 fact break points and 38 points in the paint, the game came down to hustle. With senior guards Whitney Knight and Kady Schrann on the bench with injuries, and Kaneisha Atwater continuing to lead the team, a good bit of height was missing from the floor.
GW offered 6-foot-4, reigning Atlantic 10 Conference Player and Defensive player of the year forward, Jonquel Jones. While she owned the paint, this left room for the Eagles to capitalize on the three-point line.
The Eagles shot 41 percent from the arc, compared to GW’s 9 percent from the arc. The neck to neck play, with each team showing strengths of their own and trading the lead five teams, challenged the Eagles to finish strong.
“Anytime we shoot a good percentage from three, we usually win a lot of games,” Gradinjan said. “Especially since we’re very small without (Knight). When rebounding is such a disadvantage, we have to shoot well.”
FGCU enjoyed a lead at half, but GW came out strong to take the third quarter, finding 20 points. It took the GW run to put a fire under the Eagles, who took the fourth quarter from GW 24-16.
FGCU outshot nationally-ranked GW 21-10 during the final six minutes of the game, shooting 100 percent from the floor. Taylor Gradinjan went 50 percent behind the arc, adding to the 16 points. DyTiesha Dunson also contributed to the strong finish, scoring 10 of her 12 points in the fourth corner, including two pivotal threes.
Atwater, with 22 points and 11 rebounds, sealed the Eagles fate with three made free throws and a steal during the last ten seconds of play.
“We knew that, to have a chance tonight, we were going to need a big advantage in turnovers and made threes,” said head coach Karl Smesko. “We knew they were going to dominate the boards. They got it inside on us a lot, but we forced turnovers when they pushed it inside and it kept us in the game. We were just barely in the game but we hit quite a few threes in the last few minutes and that’s what we needed. It was really great to see so many people contributing when we needed it and coming up clutch for us. I’m just really proud of the way we competed tonight.”