Flash done in by Gulf Coast perimeter play

By Nate Ritchey

nritchey@altoonamirror.com

LORETTO — Saint Francis and Florida Gulf Coast run extremely similar style offenses as the two programs like to get out and run, and shoot 3-pointers as much as possible.

With both teams averaging just over 11 made treys per game, it came as no surprise when the Red Flash and Eagles combined to knock down 18 in the opening half of play in a back-and-forth contest.

Saint Francis fell behind by 18 points early in the third quarter and appeared ready to be run right off their home floor.

Unfortunately, for the home team, FGCU answered an SFU comeback attempt with some key outside shooting en route to an 83-69 win over Saint Francis on Wednesday night at DeGol Arena.

“They have a lot of depth, they have a lot of experience. That showed too at times,” Saint Francis coach Susan Robinson Fruchtl said. “We’re still learning. I’m confident we’ll continue to get better week-by-week if we keep working really hard.”

When SFU trimmed the deficit down to five in the fourth quarter, the Eagles’ Chandler Ryan, who made just one shot leading up to that point, knocked down three straight 3-pointers to push the lead back to 14 (78-64).

“They were coming at us and they got it down to five,” Florida Gulf Coast coach Karl Smesko said. “Then No. 4 (Ryan) had three 3-pointers in a row. That was big because she hadn’t been shooting the ball well earlier in the game.”

Ryan then gave Florida Gulf Coast its largest lead of the night of 19 when she nailed another trifecta to make it 83-64.

Five points from Jess Kovatch, who finished with 21 for the contest, closed out the scoring and dropped SFU to 2-5. Meanwhile, FGCU ran its record to 6-2.

Trailing by just six (41-35) at the break, the Red Flash appeared ready to run out of the gym when the Eagles used a 12-0 spurt to gain an 18-point advantage when Nasrin Ulel completed a 3-point play with 3:29 left to push the score to 53-35.

“We just got out of sorts a little bit (to start the third),” Robinson-Fruchtl said. “… We gave up some layups, some transition buckets, some three’s. They got a lot of offensive rebound during the stretch.”

Saint Francis showed plenty of fight though as they used a 27-14 burst to cut the deficit all the way down to 67-62 when Kovatch buried a deep triple from the left side with 6:23 showing in the final stanza.

“We finally worked our way out of it and got back on the boards and got a little tougher,” Robinson-Frutchl said.

The Red Flash outrebounded the Eagles, 52-43, including 17 on the offensive glass, but the visitors drilled 18 from long range and only turned the ball over nine times as compared to the 19 miscues from SFU.

“Everytime we had a lapse, Saint Francis just kept playing,” Smesko said.

Karson Swogger with 12 and Haley Thomas with 10 joined Kovatch in double figures, while Courtney Zezza pulled down 10 boards and blocked two shots.

For Florida Gulf Coast, Ulel hit five triples and totaled 26, Keri Jewett-Giles delivered 18 and Ryan totaled 15, and Tytionia Adderly registered a game-high 14 rebounds.

FLORIDA GULF COAST (83): Ulel 8-22 5-6 26, Adderly 2-5 0-0 5, Jewett-Giles 7-15 1-3 18, Zderadicka 1-5 0-0 3, Washington 4-8 0-1 9, Phills 2-3 1-2 7, Ryan 5-14 0-0 15, Blair 0-4 0-0 0, Bryant 0-1 0-0 0, Dowling 0-0 0-0 0, Streeter 0-0 0-0 0, Johnson 0-0 0-0 0. Totals: 29-77 7-12 83.

SAINT FRANCIS (69): Williams 3-6 0-0 6, Zezza 3-9 1-2 9, Swogger 4-7 2-2 12, Sabino 0-4 0-0 0, Kovatch 8-24 1-2 21, Morrow 0-5 0-0 0, Allen 2-5 0-2 6, Timbers 2-3 0-1 5, Thomas 3-5 3-3 10. Totals: 25-68 7-12 69.

SCORE BY QUARTERS

Florida Gulf Coast 21 20 18 24 – 83

Saint Francis 17 18 13 21 – 69

3-point field goals: Florida Gulf Coast 18-52 (Ryan 5-12, Ulel 5-15, Jewett-Giles 3-10, Phills 2-2, Washington 1-3, Adderly 1-3, Zderadicka 1-4, Blair 0-3); Saint Francis 12-28 (Kovatch 4-10, Swogger 2-3, Allen 2-3, Zezza 2-4, Timbers 1-2, Thomas 1-2, Williams 0-1, Morrow 0-1, Sabino 0-2). Rebounds: Florida Gulf Coast 43 (Adderly 14); Saint Francis 52 (Zezza 10). Assists: Florida Gulf Coast 21 (Zderadicka 6); Saint Francis 9 (Swogger 4). Blocks: Florida Gulf Coast 6 (Washington 3); Saint Francis 2 (Zezza 2). Steals: Florida Gulf Coast 9 (Jewett-Giles 4); Saint Francis 2 (Williams, Thomas 1 each). Turnovers: Florida Gulf Coast 9; Saint Francis 19. Total fouls: Florida Gulf Coast 16; Saint Francis 17. Fouled out: Zezza. Technicals: none.

Officials: Kathleen Lonergan, Keneth Kelly, Randy Campbell.

A: 471.

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