Women’s Basketball: Owls blow out Palm Beach Atlantic 88-41 in season opener

Amber Gaston got her first career double-double with 15 points and 13 rebounds in the win.


Eston Parker III

Nikola Ozola (#5) gets out on the fastbreak. She scored six points in 13 minutes in a dominant win over Palm Beach Atlantic on Nov. 10, 2021.

Michael Gennaro, Social Media Manager

FAU women’s basketball (1-0) won its season opener in dominating fashion over Palm Beach Atlantic University (0-1) Wednesday night, leading by as many as 47 points and controlling all facets of the game.

The final score of 88-41 gave first-year head coach Jennifer Sullivan her first career win and stretched FAU’s home winning streak to seven games dating to last season.

“Very exciting,” Sullivan said of her first career win. “I was excited for the girls, but I told them in the locker room, ‘you’re just never going to forget the first one.’ Really thankful to have the opportunity to be here.”

The Owls were suffocating on defense, holding the Sailfish to 13.7% shooting for the game and forcing 19 turnovers. The Owls also blocked 4 shots and dominated the glass, outrebounding the Sailfish 50-40 despite PBA grabbing 22 offensive rebounds. The Sailfish only scored 19 points in the second half of the game.

“Going into this game, the goal was to hold [Palm Beach Atlantic] to 50 points or lower, so obviously we were well below that and did a good job with it,” Sullivan said. 

Sullivan praised the closeouts from her team and the way her players funneled PBA’s players to the Owls’ bigger players, who stayed vertical and stifled drives at the rim all game long.

Senior center Amber Gaston led the way with her first career double-double, scoring 15 points with 13 rebounds, including four offensive boards. Gaston also blocked two shots and deterred many others at the rim. 

“Since our staff got here this summer, she’s worked her tail off every single day. So that’s step one,” Sullivan said of Gaston. “She’s older now, she’s been in the system a long time, so she kind of knows what’s coming. We’re reaping the benefits of her age and her experience.”

Redshirt senior guard Rita Pleskevich and junior guard Alexa Zaph also scored in double figures, with 15 and 10 points, respectively. Redshirt senior forward Sofia Galeron poured in 11 points as the second-half lead extended to a rout, drilling two three-pointers.

The Owls turned the ball over on their first two possessions but cruised for the remaining 40 minutes, sprinting out to a 15-6 lead and never looking back. The Owls played through Gaston in the low post and shot 52% for the game, using their size to get second-chance opportunities and defense to force turnovers to get on the break for easy baskets at the rim. 

The Owls led 40-22 at the half. PBA cut the lead to 14 early in the third quarter, but Pleskevich went on a personal 6-0 run to extend the lead back to 20 and seal the game. 

“We’re going to look to attack on closeouts, and Rita did a good job of that,” Sullivan said. 

Despite the blowout, Sullivan saw things that need to be worked on if the Owls are to make some noise this season. The Owls had 18 turnovers and did not box out well, giving up 20 offensive rebounds.

“The turnovers were the most glaring,” Sullivan said. “I didn’t think our box outs were great. I thought we were trying to outjump them and we were just bigger than them, so that’s not going to work against bigger teams… All that stuff will get better.”

The Owls continue at home as they take on Bethune-Cookman on Sunday, Nov. 14 at 2 p.m. The match will be broadcast on C-USA TV.

Michael Gennaro is a staff writer and social media manager for the University Press. For information regarding this or other stories, email [email protected] or message him on Twitter or Instagram @mycoolgennaro