FORT MYERS, Fla. - Behind a defense that allowed just 45 points, top seed FGCU advanced to the ASUN Championship Semifinals as the Eagles topped visiting eight seed NJIT at home Friday night.
The Eagles and Highlanders started slowly with FGCU jumping out to a 10-2 lead at the midway point of the first quarter. NJIT started to gain a rhythm though, responding to cut the lead to 12-6 heading into the second quarter. There, both teams began to catch fire with the Eagles shooting their way to a 17-point lead at the halftime break behind a 24-point second quarter. The first half belonged to FGCU's Keri Jewett-Giles and Nasrin Ulel as each totaled 11 points in the first 20 minutes of play. The defense for FGCU limited the Highlanders to a 36.4 shooting percentage including 1-6 from deep.
The second half started with NJIT quickly clawing into the Eagle lead, cutting the lead down to nine points after a 17-9 run in the third quarter highlighted by a pair of three-pointers from Milena Bajic. From that point though, FGCU countered with a run of their own and never allowed NJIT back into the game as the Eagles went on an 8-0 run between the third and fourth quarters to pad the lead back to 17. Jewett-Giles was the biggest proponent of the Eagles' finish, totaling the first five points of the fourth quarter to begin to put the game away.
Jewett-Giles and fellow Eagle Davion Wingate tied for the game-high with 18 points. ASUN Player of the Year Ulel added 11 for FGCU as the only other player to score in double figures. For NJIT, junior forward Danielle Tunstall led her team with 13 points while adding seven rebounds. ASUN Scholar-Athlete of the Year Kelly Guarino hit the final shot of the game, draining a three-pointer to mark her 250th career make from beyond the arc, ranking seventh in ASUN history. FGCU forced 18 NJIT turnovers, turning those into 23 points as one of they aspects of the victory.
FGCU now prepares to face No. 7 Kennesaw State who upset No. 2 Stetson in the ASUN Championship Quarterfinals on the road. The Eagles have a 24-2 all-time mark vs. Kennesaw State and the two teams have not met in the ASUN Championship since the 2013 season, an FGCU win. NJIT finishes the year at 6-24, a two-win improvement from the 2017-18 season under first year Head Coach Mike Lane.
ASUN Conference Women's Basketball Championship Notes
- FGCU improves to 26-6 on the year after finishing 16-0 in ASUN action during the regular season
- NJIT finishes the year at 6-24, an improvement of two wins from last season's four
- NJIT guard Kelly Guarino moves to seventh all-time in ASUN history with 250 made three-pointers
- FGCU improves to 20-2 in the ASUN Championship, the second-most wins among active ASUN programs