FAU Women’s Basketball: Owls soar over Ospreys, 93-81

Allie Tylka had a breakout performance with a career-high 19 points.


Allie Tylka scored a career-high 19 points in the Owls’ win over UNF. Photo courtesy of JC Ridley/FAU Athletics.

John DeStefano, Contributing Writer

The FAU women’s basketball team opened its season Monday night with a hard-fought 93-81 win against the North Florida Ospreys. FAU looked like the better team most of the way, but UNF made things dicey in the game’s late stages.

Sophomore guard Allie Tylka led the way for the Owls with 19 points, setting a career mark for the Wauconda, Illinois native. She was tenacious at both ends of the floor and nailed three triples. However, no one achieves anything alone, and in the game’s waning moments, it was a quintessential team effort that won the day for FAU.

As with so many games, the scoreboard only told a fraction of the story. Let’s see how we got there:

Act One

From tip-off, two things were clear: both teams had a surplus of energy and they wanted to run the floor. A frenetic pace was set, and after four made three-pointers in the first 90 seconds, the atmosphere was electric as the teams traded blows at both ends. Sophomore Guard Lotta Vehka-Aho exploded out of the gate with eight points in the first quarter, including two makes from downtown.

Once the adrenaline of the first five minutes wore off, both teams settled in for the grind of running their half-court plays. Point Guard Alexa Zaph helmed the offense for the Owls for the majority of the night and nearly matched her career-high in assists with five, while adding what can only be described as a sneaky quiet 11 points on 3 for 6 shooting from the field. After plenty of back and forth scoring between the two sides, FAU led 24-20 after the first period.

Act Two

 The second and third quarters were all Owls. FAU opened up a wide margin behind the play of Graduate Transfer Iggy Allen, who was outstanding in her team debut with 18 points and nine rebounds. Allen emerged this offseason as one of the team’s unquestioned leaders, and she made her presence felt early and often as she scored points in every period. Though she would foul out late in the game, Allen still coached her teammates and provided the spark of energy and encouragement that head coach Jim Jabir loves to see.

Forward Janeta Rozentale came off the bench to pound the glass for nine rebounds and also added six points in her first game as an Owl. FAU led 40-30 at half, which ballooned to a 20-point margin by the start of the fourth quarter.

Act Three

It was not all smiles for the Owls though, and UNF gave all they could in the late stages as they tried to spoil the party. What looked to be an FAU blowout by the end of the third turned into a furious charge by the Ospreys in the final period, shrinking what was once a 21-point lead down to four. 

UNF forward Jazz Bond wreaked havoc underneath the basket for most of the evening, and she went off for 14 points in the quarter as the Ospreys rallied behind her and guard Rhetta Moore, who added nine points of her own.

FAU senior forward Astou Gaye played a pivotal role in staving off the Osprey rush, pulling down six rebounds in the fourth quarter, including four in the final minute to seal the game for the Owls, giving her a double-double for the night on an 11/13/1 stat line.

In the end, the Owls appeared very much like a team that looks to surprise a few prognosticators this year. FAU was picked to finish 10th in Conference USA , and they are on the hunt for their first winning season since the 2013-14 campaign.

It would not be an overreaction to say that if play like this continues, they are capable of that and more.

But, first things first. FAU faces two difficult matchups back-to-back as they travel to Miami to play the Hurricanes on Thursday, and then up to Gainesville to face off with the Florida Gators on Dec. 7.

Tip-off for Owls vs Hurricanes is 7:30 p.m. from Coral Gables and will be broadcast on ACC Extra.

John DeStefano is a contributing writer for the University Press. For information regarding this or other stories, email [email protected] or tweet him @Johns_voice.