For the second time in school history, the FGCU women’s basketball team has won a game in the NCAA Tournament.
China Dow scored 21 points, and Erica Nelson scored seven straight in the fourth quarter, including a key three to give No. 12 seed FGCU(31-4) the separation they needed to beat No. 5 Missouri, 80-70 in the first round of the NCAA Tournament in Stanford, Calif. on Saturday.
Nelson, saddled with four fouls for much of the second half, scored seven of her 11 points in a span of about a minute, helping to stave off a comeback attempts from the Tigers, including a contested three with 5:53 left that pushed the FGCU lead to 72-59.
Dow hit back to back threes late in the first half to help give the Eagles some early separation, part of a 9-2 run that saw the Eagles lead by double digits before carrying a 41-32 lead into the half.
Four Eagles scored in double figures, even as many key players juggled foul trouble most of the afternoon. Dow, Nelson, Rosemarie Julien with 12 points, and Jessica Cattani added 10 points. The two teams combined for 65 free throw attempts, 37 for FGCU and 28 for Missouri.
Sophie Cunningham led the Tigers(24-8) with 25 points, but had just five of them in the fourth quarter.
FGCU will face the winner of No. 4 Stanford and No. 13 Gonzaga on Monday. The heavily favored Cardinal haven’t lost in the first round since 1999, and have made at least the Sweet Sixteen every year since 2008.
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