FORT MYERS, Fla. – Junior Kelsey Jacobson’s (Barnesville, Minn./Moorhead HS) three-pointer from the left wing with just one minute left in regulation pushed the FGCU women’s basketball team to a hard fought 64-59 win over Stetson on Monday night at Alico Arena.
With the win the Blue and Green improve to 22-2 overall (15-2 A-Sun) and extend their home winning streak to 36 games, while the Hatters fall to 15-12 overall (11-7 A-Sun). The Eagles are now just one win or one ETSU loss away from clinching a share of the Atlantic Sun regular reason title.
The Blue and Green, who lead the nation in three-point field goals per game (10.8), knocked down nine triples on the night. FGCU’s defense forced Stetson into 16 turnovers and went on to score 23 points off of the Hatters miscues. Stetson’s 51 points mark the 17th time the Eagles, who lead the conference in scoring defense (55.3 ppg), have held an opponent below 60 points this season.
Senior Shannon Murphy (Brighton, Mich./Brighton HS) finished with a team-high 17 points in 37 minutes of action. Junior Nicoya Jackson (Houston, Texas/Cypress Springs HS/Southwestern Christian) finished with 13 points, seven rebounds and three steals. Redshirt-freshman Sarah Hansen (Edinboro, Pa./General McLane HS) registered eight points and five rebounds, while junior Courtney Chihil (Tipp City, Ohio/Alter HS) chipped in with eight points and a team-high 11 boards. Jacobson shot 2-of-6 from long range and finished with seven points.
Victoria McGowan led the Hatters with 19 points and 12 rebounds, while post player Natasha Graboski finished with 14 points and 10 rebounds in only 21 minutes.
The Eagles opened the game on a 6-0 run, thanks to a pair of triples from Murphy and Jacobson. The Hatters were unfazed as they used an 18-6 run to grab an 18-12 lead with 10:54 left in the opening half.
Trailing 18-12 with less than 10 minutes left in the half, the Blue and Green employed an 11-4 run, capped by a four-point play from Jackson, to take a 23-22 lead over Stetson. The Hatters would go on to outscore the Eagles 9-3 over the next five minutes (31-26) to regain the lead and force FGCU’s head coach Karl Smesko to burn a 30-second timeout.
A driving layup from senior Shavonne Butler (New Orleans, La./McDonogh HS/Hill College) with 38 seconds and a reverse lay-in from Murphy at the halftime buzzer cut the Stetson lead to just 31-30 headed into the intermission.
SU shot 8-of-24 (33.3 percent) from the field in the first half. The Hatters eight first half field goals marked the 12th time the Blue and Green have held an opponent to single digit baskets in the first 20 minutes in 2010-11.
FGCU struggled shooting the ball, hitting just 10-of-39 (25.6 percent) from the floor in the first half, including 5-of-21 (23.8 percent) from long distance.
After a layup from McGowan put Stetson up 52-49 with 5:53 left in regulation, the Eagles used a 9-0 run, highlighted by five points and solid defense from Jackson, to take a 6-point lead at 58-52.
Stetson fought back, as they had done all night, eventually taking a 59-58 lead when Graboski got the ball down low and scored a layup with 1:06 left in the contest.
The Blue and Green quickly responded after Smesko drew up a play for FGCU’s sharpshooter Jacobson, who came off a down screen to drain a wide open trifecta that pushed the Eagles back in front 61-59 with 60 seconds on the clock.
FGCU went on to force Stetson into a pair of turnovers over the final minute of the game and picked up a hard fought 64-59 conference win.
The Blue and Green will return to the court on Thursday, Feb. 24 when they host the Dolphins of Jacksonville (13-14 overall, 8-10 A-Sun) at Alico Arena. Tip off is set for 5:15 p.m.