It took the FGCU women’s basketball team four minutes to get on the board in Wednesday’s Atlantic Sun semifinal against Lipscomb.
It also took them about four minutes to put the game away.
China Dow tied the school record for threes in a game, the Eagles tied a school record for threes in a game, and FGCU set a record for the largest margin of victory in an ASUN tournament game with a 105-55 thrashing of Lipscomb on Wednesday.
A 17-2 run to end the first quarter pretty much knocked the doubt of this one, but it did come with a few minutes of déjà vu. After the men lost their tournament final to Lipscomb on Sunday, getting blown out in the first half in the process, when the Eagles missed their first six shots to open the game and the Bisons led 6-0, the arena sounded a touch uneasy before Nasrin Ulel hit a corner three 4:01 into the game to get the Eagles on the board.
But there was no panic on the Eagles bench.
“I wasn’t worried at 6-0,” Eagles coach Karl Smesko said with a dry smile. “But I did see that we had some breakdowns early and some things needed to be cleaned up. It took a few minutes for us to get in the right sets for what they were running. After that we started getting the right shots and everyone’s comfort level went up.”
Plenty more threes where Ulel’s came from. The Eagles(29-4) hit three threes in a 17-2 run over the final 3:45 of the first quarter, with Ulel hitting one at the buzzer to put the Eagles ahead 22-10.
“It was a little bit of payback. You guys beat up on our men, don’t come on our court and expect your women to do it to,” Dow said.
Two minutes into the second, after back to back threes from Taylor Gradinjan it was 33-12.
Then Dow took over. Dow hit three threes in a row in the second, part of 19 first half points. The senior, who hit 1,000 career points on Friday, finished with 30 points, including 8-of-10 shooting from three. The eight three pointers matched a school record set by multiple players.
Oh, and she did it in 18 minutes.
“We were just having fun out there,” Dow said. “Once we start shooting threes and everyone starts hitting, that’s what it is, raining threes.”
“We were playing the right offense and doing the things we needed to do right.”
By halftime, the Eagles led 47-22. The Eagles had more made threes(11), than Lipscomb did baskets(8). But the onslaught didn’t stop. The Eagles stretched it to 78-40 after the third quarter, and even with reserves in the game the lead kept growing.
Walk-on Alyssa Blair hit three number 19 with 8:45 to go to make it 84-42. With 3:20 left, Jessica Cattani not only hit three number 22, tying a school record, but putting the Eagles up over 100.
“It’s just fun seeing everyone do well and play well,” Ulel said, probably the most demonstrative on the bench when Cattani’s shot went in. “It gets you hyped having everyone do well around you.”
The 50-point margin of victory, it was at one point as large as 57, is the most lopsided result in the history of the ASUN tournament. The previous record was, oddly enough, set by Lipscomb in their last game, a 95-53 drubbing of USC-Upstate in the quarterfinal on Friday.
Loren Cagle, the do-it-all senior for Lipscomb(12-19), was a non-factor. The ASUN Player of the Year and conference leader in points and assists went 2-of-13 from the floor, ending the night with four points and six assists, turning it over five times.
“You have to stay in front of her, she’s the best cutter in the league. If you lose sight of her, she’s gone,” Smesko said. “It was going to be a team effort to stop her, you really can never lose vision of her. Rose [Julien] did a good job on her, kept her off-balance.”
Four Eagles scored in double figures, Dow, Ulel with 17, Gradinjan with 16 points, and Cattani added 13 points off the bench.
APPROACHING MORE RECORDS
Sacramento State owns the record for most threes in a season with 424, set in 2015. Wednesday’s 22 puts the Eagles at 402 on the season.
With an average of 12.1 threes per game, FGCU is on pace to beat that mark, as they’re guaranteed a minimum of two more games: Sunday’s conference final, and either a spot in the NCAA Tournament or an automatic bid in the WNIT by virtue of being regular-season ASUN champions.
JACKSONVILLE ONCE AGAIN
Jacksonville beat FGCU in 2016 in Alico Arena the last time these two played in an ASUN Final, that was the first time the Eagles had lost to an ASUN team on their home floor since 2010.
The Dolphins, the No. 2 seed, beat upset-minded No. 6 seed North Florida, 83-77 in overtime to win their semifinal
No. 2 Jacksonville, Sunday(ASUN Championship)
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