Washington Flirts With Triple-Double as FGCU Tops ACU 81-65

Washington Flirts With Triple-Double as FGCU Tops ACU 81-65

FORT MYERS, Fla. - Destiny Washington flirted with a triple-double as the FGCU women's basketball team (8-2) won its sixth-straight game with an 81-65 victory over Abilene Christian (7-3) in Alico Arena on Monday.

"This was kind of a wild game," FGCU head coach Karl Smesko said. "I give Abilene credit. They came after us and pressured us. We didn't do a good job taking care of the basketball. Fortunately, we shot it well enough to overcome way too many turnovers, and we forced a number of turnovers ourselves. We turned those into points quite a few times, and that might have been the difference in the game."

Washington (Indianapolis, Ind./Lawrence North HS), who is a graduate transfer from Ball State, had her best game in the Green and Blue as she tallied a season-high 18 points along with eight rebounds and a career-high seven steals. In fact, she is now tied for the third-most steals in a single-game in the program's Division-I era and Alico Arena history. Overall, she finished 8-for-11 from the field and even added a big late-game assist on a layup by Keri Jewett-Giles.

The Eagles finished 32-for-63 (50.8 percent) from the field to overcome a season-high 24 turnovers. Defensively, however, they forced 26 turnovers from Abilene Christian on 17 steals - both of which were also season-highs for FGCU. Doing so led to 30 points on the other end. Their offensive efficiency was the third-highest team percentage of the season behind Johnson & Wales (.588) and FIU (.544).

Outside of Washington, Jewett-Giles (Fort Myers, Fla./Dunbar HS) had team-highs in points (19) and assists (6) while adding two steals and two rebounds. She had 10 of her points in the final quarter alone on 4-for-5 shooting. Tytionia Adderly also teamed with Washington down low and flirted with her 10th career double-double before totaling 12 points, nine rebounds, five assists and two steals. In fact, six players recorded at least two steals for the Eagles.

The duo of Nasrin Ulel (Murrieta, Calif./Murrieta HS) and Lisa Zderadicka each chipped in eight points apiece and combined for five rebounds, five assists and four steals. Chandler Ryan (6), Davion Wingate (6) and Alyssa Blair (4) also combined for 16 points to round out the scoring for FGCU.

Despite the double-digit victory and the lead only changing hands twice, the game was a fight the whole way for the Green and Blue.

Jewett-Giles beat the shot clock with a deep 3-pointer to give FGCU 15-9 lead with 4:38 left in the opening quarter, but the Wildcats scored the final seven and 13 of 15 to take a 24-19 lead through the first 10 minutes.

Ryan (Groveland, Ill./Morton HS) scored all six of her points in the second frame on a pair of key 3-point field goals, while Adderly (Jupiter, Fla./Cardinal Newman HS) had five points as the Eagles shot 6-for-13 from the field and outscored Abilene Christian 17-9 to take a three-point lead into the break.

With her team clinging to a two-point lead with just under three minutes left in the third, Washington hit a short jumper in the paint and then grabbed an offensive board before scoring two more points on a layup to give FGCU a 53-47 lead. Moments later, she produced a steal that led to a fast break layup from Blair (Sun Prairie, Wis./Sun Prairie HS) as the Green and Blue completed a 6-0 run. In the final minute, Washington had a defensive rebound that led to a pair of free throws by Jewett-Giles to give FGCU an eight-point lead.

Abilene Christian trimmed its deficit to six on two occasions over the first three minutes of the fourth, but Washington grabbed a steal and finished a fast break layup to spur an 8-0 run that was finished by both fourth-quarter 3-pointers from Jewett-Giles. Zderadicka (Vienna, Austria/HAK Korneuburg) then added one of her own to stretch the margin to 15 with 3:50 left. The lead grew to as many as 18 late on a 3-pointer from Wingate (Atlanta, Ga./Stephenson HS).

Next Up
FGCU will host the Hilton Garden Inn Classic this week before taking a break for the holidays. The action begins on Wednesday with a 5 p.m. matchup against Coppin State, who has incredibly only played one home game this year. It will be the first game of a doubleheader with the men, and fans are encouraged to wear their favorite ugly Christmas sweater. On Friday, the Eagles will face a stout UAB team at 7 p.m. and fans are encouraged to wear blue.

"Coppin State is coming off a game where they lost a buzzer, so I'm sure they'll be hungry to get a win," Smesko said of Wednesday's opponent. "And we'll have a short turnaround to get ready for them. UAB is one of the best mid-majors in the country. That will be really tough. They have so many really good players. They shoot it so well and they have a really good post presence. Plus, they're well-coached. They took Tennessee to overtime on a neutral court, so we'll have to play exceptionally well to have a chance to win."

Notes
The Eagles failed to make 10 or more 3-point field goals for just the third time this season. They finished 9-for-25 from long range.

Along with last year's win on the road, FGCU is now 2-0 all-time against Abilene Christian.

WE'VE GOT YOUR SEAT
Experience FGCU basketball this season. The following ticket opportunities are on sale now:
Punch Pass
Three entries for $15 or seven entries for $30. Remaining Punch Pass Games: Men vs Keiser; Women vs Coppin State and UAB. Purchase online HERE or call 239-590-7145.
Group Sales
Bring your group of 20 or more to an FGCU Men's or Women's Basketball game. All group tickets include an FGCU hat ($15 value), a $5 game day discount at The Boardwalk restaurant, in-game group recognition and more. For more information on group outings, click HERE or call 239-590-7145.
Single Game Tickets
Single game tickets are available for all remaining home games. Discounts are available for current or former Military and Youth ages 3-15. Purchase online HERE or call 239-590-7145.
Military Appreciation Games
Military Appreciation Night is Saturday, Jan. 5. Discounted tickets are available for current or former Military and their families. Women's tickets start at $8 each and Men's tickets start at $9 each and the first 50 military discount orders include a free $10 gift card for Mission BBQ. Purchase online HERE or call 239-590-7145.

COACH SMESKO
FGCU head coach Karl Smesko led the 2017-18 Eagles to another historic season. The Green and Blue finished 31-5 overall and 13-1 in ASUN play, capturing the program's eighth ASUN regular season championship and fifth ASUN tournament championship. The team finished the season ranked 25th in the final USA Today Coaches Poll, recaptured the NCAA record for most 3-point field goals made in a season with 431 and advanced to the NCAA Tournament for the fifth time in seven seasons, where the Eagles knocked off 5th-seeded and No. 15 ranked Missouri in the opening round. It was the team's second tournament win over the past three appearances. Over the course of the season, FGCU knocked off three ranked teams - No. 15 Missouri, No. 20 Kentucky and No. 21 DePaul.

Over the past four seasons, Smesko has guided FGCU to three 30 plus win seasons while recording a 121-23 (.840) record overall. The now eight-time ASUN Coach of the Year rallied the 2016-17 team to its seventh straight 25-win campaign, culminating in an ASUN tournament title and NCAA Tournament appearance. In 2015-16, he was named the espnW mid-major coach of the year following a run that witnessed the Eagles claim a WNIT runner-up finish and a Division-I program best ever 33-6 record. In 2014-15, the team achieved its first-ever top-25 ranking and made another trip to the NCAA Tournament, where the Eagles earned a No. 7 seed and won the program's first-ever NCAA Tournament game, toppling No. 10 seed Oklahoma State.

Including the 2017-18 campaign, Smesko has guided the Eagles to 14-straight 20-win seasons and eight-straight 25-win seasons. He maintains a record of 504-116 (.813) overall in his career, including a 170-16 (.914) mark in ASUN play. Over the past seven seasons, he has guided FGCU to a 106-4 (.964) record in conference play with four undefeated seasons. Smesko earned his 400th career coaching win in 2014-15 in just 493 career games, two games faster than UConn's Geno Auriemma. Entering 2016-17, he ranked among an elite list of just four active Division I coaches with a career win percentage of .800 or higher, joining Auriemma, Baylor's Kim Mulkey and Stanford's Tara VanDerveer in the esteemed group. Over the past year, first-year NCAA Division-I head coaches Nancy Fahey (Illinois) and Bart Brooks (Belmont) pushed the list to six.

FOLLOW ALONG
For up-to-the-minute information and behind-the-scenes access to the women's basketball program, follow @FGCU_WBB on Twitter and Instagram and like us on Facebook at /FGCUWBB.

SUPPORT THE CAUSE
FGCU Athletics sponsors events throughout the year to benefit the FGCU Campus Food Pantry (www.fgcu.edu/foodpantry) and the Harry Chapin Food Bank (www.harrychapinfoodbank.org), FGCU Athletics' charities of choice. For more information, including how to contribute, please visit www.fgcu.edu/foodpantry and utilize the hashtag #FeedFGCU to help.

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