Boca Raton, Fla. -
Florida Atlantic University women’s basketball (4-16, 0-9 C-USA) took Charlotte (16-5, 8-2 C-USA) down to the wire on Thursday night as they dropped a 72-66 decision after nearly matching the Niners in shooting percentage and rebounds in the 40 minutes of action.
A jumper by Lefty Webster and a layup by Ciara Gregory would extend Charlotte’s lead to 14 at the start of the fourth quarter. FAU answered with a 10-0 run, which included two threes from Sasha Cedeno, as the Niners went scoreless for just over three minutes and the Owls narrowed the lead to just four with six minutes left to play. Charlotte would extend their lead by seven, but FAU’s Cedeno came through in the clutch with her fifth three of the night to put FAU down just 67-63 with two minutes on the clock. The Owls would commit six fouls, sending the 49ers to the free throw line three times where they took five points to end the game up 72-66 despite not scoring a field goal in the final 2:50.
On the Court with Coach Jay:
“I think you just have to keep working and getting better and better in practice every day. I thought there were some things we did much better than in any other game all season,” said Head Women’s Basketball Coach Kellie Lewis-Jay. “I think this group is working every day to get better. I loved our defensive intensity and our energy. They got to the free throw line 13 times and had 10 makes and we were 3-for-5, so there is your deficit right there. I thought we shot the three well tonight and we took care of the ball well, but we just have to continue to be aggressive and get to the basket.”
Malia Kency gave the Owls their first lead of the game off a basket from downtown at the 7:12 mark of the first quarter. Charlotte retook and secured the lead halfway through off six points from Grace Hunter and five from Webster. FAU earned six points in that same timeframe as both teams then went scoreless for the final two minutes to put the tally at 20-13 in the Niners favor.
Back-to-back threes from Cedeno put FAU within one point to start the second quarter. The Niners then went on a 9-2 run over the next four and half minutes, aided by four Owl turnovers, to extend their lead. The Owls’ last points of the half came off a jumper by Nika Zyryanova at 2:26. Webster tacked on three more points to end the quarter with the 49ers up 33-23.
FAU and Charlotte went tit for tat in the third with each team scoring 23 points despite the Owls outshooting the 49ers 52.6-45.5 percent. In the first five minutes of the quarter, FAU picked up 11 points while Charlotte came away with nine. The teams exchanged baskets for the remainder of the third as the Owls went 3-of-4 in the last two minutes and the Niners hit four of their last five to take a 56-46 lead into the final 10 minutes.
“Nothing But Net” Notables:
- Ra’Kyra Gabriel had a career-best 13 points to go along with her nine rebounds. The sophomore forward went 4-for-5 in the third quarter alone. Cedeno had a team-best 15 points, tying her career high in threes made and attempted as she went 5-for-10 from beyond the arc.
- Melinda Myers and Jacey Bailey also had solid performances matching their personal bests in rebounds (11) and points (10), respectively. Myers added three blocks and two steals on the night while Bailey had two rebounds and an assist.
- Every Owl that saw the floor scored at least two points and picked up at least one rebound in the contest. This is also the sixth game that three or more FAU players scored in double digits.
- Both teams were very evenly matched as Charlotte shot 37.3 percent to FAU’s 37.3 percent, and the 49ers claimed 48 boards while the Owls took 44.
- The Niners had four players score 10 or more points with Grace Hunter picking up a double-double (26 pts, 13 rebounds). Gregory contributed with 17 points while Webster added 13 and nine boards and Jamison-Myers took 10 points and eight rebounds.
FAU will play Old Dominion at home on Saturday, Feb. 4 at 3 p.m. For ticket information, please call 1-866-FAU-OWLS or visit FAUsports.com.