FCGU women lose in OT in NCAA tournament

BRENT KALLESTAD Associated Press Published:

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) -- Florida Gulf Coast's 21-game winning streak and hopes of advancing in the NCAA tournament ended Sunday when the Eagles failed to strongly close out either half.

FGCU, eligible for the NCAA tournament for the first time this year after transitioning from Division II, couldn't hold onto an 11-point lead with 6 1-2 minutes left and lost to St. Bonaventure 72-65 in overtime in the first round.

The Eagles were outscored 12-1 in the final 5:48 of the first half and 28-9 during a decisive stretch in the second half.

"We didn't execute at the level that you need to win an NCAA tournament game,' FGCU coach Karl Smesko said. "We kind of evaporated."

The Eagles opened the second half on a 29-12 run to get a 53-42 lead with 6:29 left. They managed only one more field goal the rest of the way, Courtney Chihil's layup with four seconds left that sent the game into overtime.

"I've got to have them prepared for finishing the halves," Smesko said. "We didn't do it as well as we think we should have."

Sarah Hansen led FGCU (29-3) with 15 points and 11 rebounds, but the Eagles shot just 35.7 percent overall and 26.9 percent from 3-point distance.

"We just didn't execute our offense as well as we should have," said Kelsey Jacobson, who was just 1 of 8 from the floor. "We have to give them credit for that."

St. Bonaventure (30-3) outscored FGCU 34-24 in the paint and 11-5 on second-chance points.

"We were fortunate to have a little more left in the tank," Bonnies coach Jim Crowley said. "We've won 30 games in a lot of different ways."

Megan Van Tatenhove finished with 18 points and Armelia Horton chipped in with 17 more and nine rebounds to lead St. Bonaventure, which made 43 percent of its shots.

But the Eagles, the nation's top 3-point shooting team, went nearly 22 minutes in the second half and overtime without a 3 after Eglah Griffin connected with 16:12 left. That shot set a Division I record for 3s in a season (341), according to tournament officials.

FGCU's next 3-pointer came with just 7 seconds left in overtime when the Bonnies already had the game wrapped up.

St. Bonaventure moves on to play No. 13 seed Marist (26-7) on Tuesday night, with the winner advancing to the round of 16 in the Raleigh Regional. The Red Foxes upset fourth-seeded Georgia 76-70 for their 11th straight win. St. Bonaventure defeated Marist 67-56 on Dec. 18.

"In March there are the people that are ecstatic -- those are the people that get to move on," Smesko said. "And there's misery -- those are the people that go home."