Women’s basketball: FAU jumps to 2-0 after nail-biter against Indiana State

Juniors Nika Zyryanova and Sasha Cedeno carried the Owls with a combined 37 points.


FAU junior guard Nika Zyryanova (33) scored a career-high 20 points in the Owls win over Indiana State. Mohammed F. Emran | Staff Photographer

Brendan Feeney, Sports Editor

After trailing by four entering halftime, Indiana State jumped out to a 48-42 lead midway through the third quarter. Then the team ran into a pair of juniors on Kellie Lewis-Jay’s Florida Atlantic women’s basketball team.

Sasha Cedeno hot-potatoed an outlet pass to a streaking Nika Zyryanova, both of whom already made a 3-pointer in the half. Zyryanova caught the ball to the right side of the basket before throwing up a reverse layup on the left side.

Less than a minute later, Cedeno once again received a pass around midcourt and looked up to see a cutting Zyryanova. Zyryanova caught the pass, pump faked and watched two defenders fly by, then scored.

She capped off the 14-4 run with another layup and a 3-pointer to give her team a 56-52 lead and the Owls never looked back, en route to their second straight home victory to open the season, 70-67.

“Having a young team like we do, we could have easily folded,” Lewis-Jay said. “I thought we fought back, we held our composure to take the lead back. It showed me a lot.”

Zyryanova finished the game with a career high of 20 points on 8-of-14 shooting. Her fellow junior Cedeno scored 17 points, making 5-of-8 from three-point range, including one from the Owls halfcourt logo which sits at least 5-feet behind the arc.

“Sasha was on fire,” Zyryanova said. “[Her emotion] carries over and it goes throughout the team, Sasha is a very exciting player and I’m always excited to play with her … the way she can shoot and score is amazing.”

The Owls as a team outshot the Sycamores from three, making 10-of-21 compared to 4-of-22.

They also allowed Indiana State to made a comeback bid and saw their lead cut to just two points with 20 seconds left. Then freshman Katelyn O’Reilly made her presence felt.

O’Reilly forced a steal off junior Wendi Bibbins, who was attempting a turnaround jumper for the tie, and kicked the ball out to junior Malia Kency with 11 seconds left. Kency missed both foul shots, but O’Reilly battled the rebound and managed to force it out of bounds on Indiana State, keeping possession for FAU.

Junior Raven Doyle capitalized on O’Reilly’s efforts and made two foul shots to ice the game. Doyle reached double-digit rebounds for the second straight game.

Lewis-Jay has enjoyed the hard work put in by all of her players in the team’s two victories to open the season.

“Their fight, I really like their fight,” she said. “We got to continue to stay together, we got to continue to keep fighting and I think the message is in the locker room is yes, we may be 2-0 right now but that means nothing. The only thing that matters is the next game.”

The Owls next game will be against Mercer in Macon, Georgia, on Friday, Nov. 18, at 7 p.m.

Brendan Feeney is the sports editor of the University Press. For information regarding this or other stories, email [email protected] or tweet him @feeney42.