BOCA RATON, Fla. – The Florida Atlantic University women’s basketball team (4-9, 0-2 in Conference USA) battled against a tough Middle Tennessee squad (12-3, 4-1 in C-USA), but fell short, 60-56. Both teams were tied at 53 with well under a minute to play, but MT came up with the go-ahead 3-pointer with 18 seconds on the clock. Sofia Galeron led the Owls with her third consecutive double-double, registering 14 points and 11 rebounds.
HOW IT WAS DECIDED
Rita Pleskevich contributed the Owls’ first points on the board off a jumper and Alexa Zaph followed with a hook shot, as FAU led 4-2 to begin the game. MT scored four consecutive points, but Galeron knocked down a 3-pointer, as FAU led 7-6 at the media timeout with 4:41 left in the first quarter. FAU went on a 6-0 run thanks to baskets by Pleskevich, Galeron and Kynadi Kuykendoll to lead 15-6 with under 30 seconds left in the quarter. After starting out the game 0-3 from beyond the arc, MT hit their first 3-pointer to come within six points of FAU, as the Owls led 15-9. The Owls forced five turnovers while holding the Lady Raiders to 33% shooting in the first frame.
The defensive slugfest between the two teams continued into the second quarter. Gaston made one of two free throws, but then the Owls were held in a scoring drought for over three minutes while committing three turnovers during that time. Allie Tylka broke the scoring drought with a layup, as FAU led 18-11 with 5:44 left in the half. MT then started to catch some fire, making 4-for-4 field goals to go on a 9-4 run, which cut the Owls’ lead to two at the media timeout. A Janeta Rozentale layup followed by another Galeron 3-pointer put the Owls up 25-20 with 2:59 left in quarter, but FAU ended the frame in a scoring drought, as MT closed in on the Owls by one, 25-24, in FAU’s favor.
MT took the lead off a layup for the first time since early in the first quarter, but FAU retook it off an aggressive drive to the basket for a layup by Kuykendoll. As FAU fell in a scoring drought for over two minutes, MT cruised on an 8-0 run to take a seven-point lead. Galeron would then splash in her third 3-pointer of the game to help the Owls close in on the Lady Raiders by two, 34-32, but four unanswered points by MT put the Lady Raiders up 38-32 with 4:47 left in the third. The Owls had troubles finding any magic from the field late in the third quarter, being held without a field goal for the final four minutes of the frame. FAU trailed MT 47-41 in the third, as the Owls were outscored 23-16.
FAU fought hard in the fourth, opening up the first half of the quarter on an 8-2 run. The Lady Raiders did not score their first basket in the fourth until 6:05 left in the game. A Tylka layup put the Owls within two, 49-47, and following a defensive stop, the Owls got the ball back and Pleskevich capitalized with a jumper to tie the game at 49. In the last half of the fourth quarter, the score tied three times. With 2:16 left, Rozentale knocked in both free throws to tie the game at 53. MT had the ball with under a minute remaining and after two missed shots on the possession, they got a third shot and knocked down a 3-pointer. The Owls had a chance on the other end to tie the game, but could not get the shot to fall. FAU fell 60-56.
- Galeron tallied her third consecutive double-double to lead the Owls. She led the team with 14 points off matching a career-high four 3-pointers. She also matched a career-high 11 boards along with five assists
- Pleskevich recorded her eighth double digit scoring game of the season with 10 points. She also added four rebounds and two steals
- Kuykendoll earned her first career double digit scoring contest with a career-high 10 points along with three assists and two steals
- Zaph matched a season-high seven rebounds, all on the defensive end of the floor
- Rozentale recorded nine points and four rebounds
- The Owls outrebounded the Lady Raiders, 37-29
- MT came into the game averaging over 10 treys a game, but the Owls held the Lady Raiders to 6-for-22 from beyond the arc tonight
“[That was] a heartbreaker. We have game goals every game, and every time you meet your game goals and come up short, that’s heartbreaking,” said head coach Jennifer Sullivan. “Our game goals were limiting turnovers to 15 and under and we were right at 15, outrebound them like we did and shoot 70% from the free throw line. We thought we did what we needed to in order to win, but came up short. There were a couple of loose balls there late, but I’m really proud of their fight. That’s a really good team. This was our second game with our entire roster back and I think that shows a lot about the potential of this group. I think they are doing things the right way, and eventually we will get over the hump.”
The Owls will remain at home this Saturday, Jan. 15 to face UAB at 2 p.m. Tickets for the game can be purchased here, or by calling 1-866-FAU-OWLS.
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