As expected, the FGCU women’s basketball team continues their march toward March.
The Eagles(28-4) hit five threes in the first five minutes of the game, and wasted little time taking care of No. 8 NJIT, 83-62 on Friday at Alico Arena.
After Nasrin Ulel missed a three from the corner, the Eagles rattled off five straight, three of them from Taylor Gradinjan. Ulel’s triple that marked the fifth of the streak saw FGCU ahead 18-8, and NJIT wouldn’t get within single digits the rest of the way.
But Gradinjan still thinks the lead could’ve been bigger.
“I think we could’ve escalated our lead a lot better,” Gradinjan said, calling the game a “C” effort. “We got lazy and didn’t do the things we were supposed to do. Now is not the time to be making mistakes.”
It’s not a shock that a team which tags itself as “Raining Threes” makes a lot of long range buckets. But this season has been prolific even by FGCU standards.
When Jessica Cattani hit a three midway through the second quarter, not only did it make the Eagles lead 41-23, it also set the new program record for threes in a single season. After 14 threes on Monday, the Eagles now have 380 on the year, leading the nation this season.
The previous record, set in 2015-16, was 372. That year the Eagles played 39 games, after missing the NCAA tournament and reaching the championship game of the WNIT.
This year’s team broke that mark in 32.
As it stands right now, the Eagles sit third all-time in NCAA history for made threes, and are also on pace to be only the third team to average at least 11 threes per game, currently at 11.8 per game.
The all-time threes record belongs to Sacramento State, who hit 424 of them in 2014-15. The Hornets also currently hold second place on the all-time list with 386.
“A lot of players have improved their shooting compared to a year ago,” Eagles coach Karl Smesko said. “We spent a lot of time working on shooting, a big part of our offense is being able to spread the floor, making people cover the whole floor, and you can only do that if the people on the floor can shoot it. And we’ve got some good ones.”
Gradinjan led the Eagles with 20 points, including six threes. Rosemarie Julien added 16 points, and Ulel had 13. Tytionia Adderly barely missed a double-double, with nine points and 13 rebounds.
Kelly Guarino led the Highlanders(4-26) with 17 points.
DOW SETS NEW HIGH
It was a night of milestones for the Eagles. China Dow hit 1,000 career points on Friday on a layup in the second half.
Dow has 657 of them in two seasons at FGCU, the other 344 came in two seasons at Middle Tennessee State.
Smesko after the game admitted he forgot about that part.
“I had no idea. I’ll be honest I was on the bench going ‘she doesn’t have 1,000 points,’” Smesko said when he heard the public address announcement.
He said it was assistant coach Chelsea Lyles who reminded him that Dow played at Middle Tennessee.
“It was throwing me off, I was even doing the math in my head saying there’s no way,” Smesko joked.
She left the game briefly on Friday after appearing to pull up favoring her right leg, but would return. Dow had four points in 17 minutes.
No. 2 Jacksonville 79, No. 7 Kennesaw St. 52
No. 6 North Florida 63, No. 3 Stetson 55(OT)
No. 4 Lipscomb 95, No. 5 USC-Upstate 53
No. 4 Lipscomb, Wednesday
© 2018 Naples Herald. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.