TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) - In its first year of eligibility, Florida Gulf Coast rolls into the NCAA women’s tournament as the nation’s top 3-point shooting team, a talent that has carried the Eagles to a 21-game winning streak.
Seeded 12th in the Raleigh Regional, Florida Gulf Coast (29-2) plays No. 5 seed St. Bonaventure (29-3) on Sunday in a matchup of schools making their first NCAA tournament appearances.
“Teams that can shoot the 3s are always dangerous, and they do it better than anybody in the country,” St. Bonaventure coach Jim Crowley said Saturday. “It’s the most important play in basketball. The 3-pointer can demoralize a team or pick a team up at any time.”
Florida Gulf Coast, located in Fort Myers in southwestern Florida, hasn’t lost since Dec. 28 and puts up nearly 30 shots a game from behind the 3-point arc.
The Lady Eagles shoot 37.3 percent from 3-point range, making an average of 10.8 per game to lead the nation. Sophomore Sarah Hansen leads FGCU at 14.3 points a game while senior Kelsey Jacobson’s 80 field goals from 3-point distance lead the Eagles.
Redshirt sophomore Amber Rechis plays only about 10 minutes a game but lights it up from outside, shooting 56.9 percent from 3-point range.
“It’s the reason that teams that don’t maybe have as much size can make some noise,” Crowley said. “If you can find people who can shoot the ball, you give yourself a shot.”
St. Bonaventure, however, defends the outside shot well, holding opponents to just 28.7 percent from 3-point range.
“We’re going to have to work really hard to get our shots,” FGCU coach Karl Smesko said.
Smesko said his team can play a tight defensive game or do well in a run-and-shoot affair.
“We definitely like kids that can shoot it,” he said.
And his players like to shoot, from just about anywhere.
“Coach has always allowed us to shoot the 3 when we’re open,” Jacobson said.
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