The ETSU women’s basketball team featured four players in double-figures but it was not enough as the Florida Gulf Coast Eagles pulled away to best the Bucs, 73-58, on Thursday evening inside Alico Arena.
With the loss ETSU drops to 5-9 overall and 1-2 in the Atlantic Sun, while FGCU improves to 8-6 on the season and 2-0 in league play.
The Bucs began the game energized, taking a 6-5 advantage before the first media timeout at the 15:42 mark. The catalysts behind this liveliness were Chandler Christopher (Greeneville, Tenn.), who took charges and battled amongst the bigs for rebounds, and Cara Bowling (Elizabethton, Tenn.), who paced the Bucs on the offensive end. ETSU was also able to take advantage of FGCU giveaways and turn offensive rebounds into second-chance points. After the Blue and Gold took a 13-10 advantage with 13:22 to go in the first half, the Eagles managed to settle down on the offensive end and execute. Over the next 10 minutes, FGCU went on a 22-11 run to take a 34-24 lead with 2:41 left in the period. The Bucs then answered with the next five points of the half including a buzzer-beating basket from Christopher to shrink the Eagles’ advantage to 34-29 at the break.
To begin the second half, FGCU came out strong, scoring the first six points of the period. This quick burst snowballed into a 28-10 surge by the Eagles to take a 62-39 lead with 10 minutes remaining. FGCU was then able to increase its advantage to a game-high 25 points with 7:49 left. Facing a large deficit, ETSU refused to quit. Over the final five minutes of the contest, the Blue and Gold went on an 8-2 run to reduce the Eagles’ advantage to 73-58 before the final buzzer.
Four FGCU starters scored 68 of its 73 points, led by a game-high 21 points from Whitney Knight. Meanwhile, ETSU got a team-high 15 points from Bowling, 11 in the first half, and a season-high 12 points from Shawn Randall (Orlando, Fla.). Joining the aforementioned players in double-figures were Brianna McQueen (Jonesboro, Ga.) with 13 points and Maria Bond (Macon, Ga.) with 10.
The Eagles shot a satisfactory 48 percent from the field but a less than stellar 36 percent from behind the arc. FGCU did take advantage of its opportunities from the free-throw line with 15-of-20 makes (75 percent) and also assisted on 13 of its 25 made field goals.
ETSU shot 42 percent from the floor but struggled from downtown and from the charity stripe at 17 and 64 percent, respectively. The Bucs held advantages in many of the game’s miscellaneous stats, highlighted by 19-6 second-chance points and 16-3 bench points. The Blue and Gold also held a 36-32 scoring advantage in the paint and outrebounded the Eagles 33-31.
The Bucs will travel to DeLand, Fla. to take on the Stetson Hatters on Saturday, Jan. 11, at 1 p.m. inside the Edmunds Center.