DATE/TIME: Friday, March. 18, 2011/7:05 P.M. ET
SITE: Fort Myers, Fla. - Alico Arena (4,500)
LIVE STATS: FGCUATHLETICS.COM
LIVE VIDEO: ASUN.TV
LIVE AUDIO: FGCUATHLETICS.COM
TALENT: Tom James (Play-by-Play), J Webb Horton (Analyst)
SERIES: First Meeting
WITH A WIN: vs. winner of Florida/UMBC
The A-Sun regular season champion FGCU women’s basketball team returns to the court for the first time since winning the Hilton Garden Inn FGCU Classic on Sunday, March 6 to host the Drexel Dragons in a WNIT first round matchup. Tip-off is set for 7:05 p.m., with the winner of the game taking on the winner of Florida/UMBC contest in the second round.
SCOUTING THE DRAGONS
• Denise Dillon is in her 8th season as the head coach of the Drexel women’s basketball team and has a career record of 132-110. Last season she became the program’s second winningest coach all-time while leading the Dragons to their first Postseason WNIT appearance. Dillon brought the Dragons their first CAA Championship and NCAA Tournament appearance in the 2008-09 season and earned her second conference Coach of the Year honor (2004-05 CAA Co-Coach of the Year).
• Drexel will enter Friday’s game with an overall record of 19-12. The Dragons posted a Colonial Athletic Association record of 10-8, finishing sixth in the final regular-season standings.
• The Dragons are coming off a tough 63-51 loss to UNC Wilmington in the quarterfinals of the CAA Tournament, a defeat that snapped a four-game winning streak for Drexel. Junior Kamile Nacickaite scored a game-high 22 points against the Seahawks on 8-for-14 shooting and a 4-for-6 performance from behind the three-point arc.
• Drexel is 5-8 on the road this season. In non-conference contests in 2010-11, the Dragons are 9-4 overall, including 2-2 on the road.
• Drexel made its first appearance in the WNIT after last season. The Dragons hosted East Carolina in a contest that ended in a 78-76 OT loss to the Lady Pirates.
• The Dragons, as a team, rank among the nation’s top 50 in multiple categories:
- 3rd: 3-Point Percentage (.413)
- 7th: Free-Throw Percentage (.771)
- 21st: 3-Point Field Goals Per Game (7.3)
- 48th: Scoring Defense (.569)
• Junior Kamile Nacickaite and senior Jasmina Rosseel, who each earned 2010-11 CAA All-Conference honors, lead the Drexel offense. Nacickaite picked up second team All-CAA accolades after averaging nearly 18 points per contest while also leading the team in rebounds and steals. Nacickaite currently ranks third in the nation in three-point field goal percentage at 47.4 percent (73-of-154). A third team All-CAA selection, Rosseel is Drexel’s second leading scorer (11.5) and will finish her time as a Dragon as the only player in the program’s history to play on a winning team in four consecutive seasons.
EAGLES IN THE WNIT
FGCU has earned an automatic bid in four consecutive Postseason WNIT’s. The Eagles are 2-3 overall in the WNIT, including a 2-0 record at home. The Blue and Green defeated George Washington (97-94 2OT; 08-09: WNIT 1st Rd) and USF (67-65; 07-08: WNIT 1st Rd) in Alico Arena.
FGCU IN MARCH
• FGCU has an all-time record of 19-5 in games played in the month of March.
• Since moving to Division I in 2007-08 the Eagles hold an 11-3 record in the month of March.
WE’RE GOING STREAKING
FGCU has not lost a home game in Alico Arena since January 8, 2009 against East Tennessee State University. FGCU’s 73-68 win over SIU Edwardsville (Mar. 6) bumped the Eagles home win streak to 41 games. FGCU’s 41-game home winning streak is the third longest streak in the nation behind UConn and Stanford.
Sarah Hansen, Shannon Murphy and Kelsey Jacobson have combined to account for 52.6 percent (37.5 points per game) of FGCU’s scoring. The trio is also shooting .442 (400-of-906) from the floor and .363 (168-of-463) from long distance.
WE MUST PROTECT THIS HOUSE
FGCU has a 136-9 all-time record at home. Since moving to Division I, the Eagles have compiled a 58-3 home record.
Alico Arena has become one of the most intimidating places for opposing teams in all of Division I women’s basketball. The Eagles have accumulated a 58-3 record on their home court since moving to Division I, good for a .951 winning percentage and the highest all-time winning percentage at home. Tennessee, who has a .944 winning percentage (339-20), ranks second all-time in winning percentage at home (Thompson-Boling Arena).
PICKIN’ UP POSTSEASON HARDWARE
After winning the Atlantic Sun regular season championship for the second time in four years, the FGCU women’s basketball team earned a few more honors on Tuesday. The conference announced their postseason honors and awards, with FGCU taking home four awards.
FGCU earned its fourth first team selection in program history as senior Shannon Murphy followed up her second team selection last season by averaging a team-best 4.3 assists and 2.1 steals and ranking second on the Eagles in scoring (12.3). Murphy, who sits second all-time in scoring in program history with 1,123 points, also ranked in the top-15 in the A-Sun in three-point percentage (.335) and assist-to-turnover ratio (.1.50). The senior captain scored in double figures 20 times this season, leading the Eagles in scoring in eight contests.
Redshirt-freshman Sarah Hansen, a three-time A-Sun Newcomer of the Week and MVP of the 2010 Caribbean Challenge, earned second team All-Atlantic Sun and All-Freshmen team honors, helping the Eagles secure their eighth 21-plus win season in the nine year program history. Hansen, who led the A-Sun and ranked 38th in the nation in field goal percentage (.520), is the first freshman in FGCU history to lead the team in scoring (13.1) and rebounding (6.1). The chemistry major scored in double figures 19 times this season, led the Eagles in rebounding on 14 occasions and in scoring in nine contests.
FGCU’s Karl Smesko claimed a regular season conference crown for the second time in the program’s existence as his squad amassed a 17-3 conference mark earning him Coach of the Year. The Eagles, who own the nation’s third longest home winning streak (38 games), behind UConn and Stanford, have earned their fourth automatic WNIT bid in as many years of eligibility.
FGCU’s three-point prowess has been the program’s calling card from day one and the 2010-11 version of the Eagles is no different. Through 30 games, FGCU leads the nation with an average of 11.0 threes per game, a whole trifecta in front of second place Fresno State (9.7). As a team, FGCU has drained double-digit threes in 15 games this season.
RANK TEAM 3-PT FG/GAME
1. FGCU 11.0
2. Fresno State 9.7
3. UT Martin 8.9
4. Oregon 8.5
THREE IS THE KEY
• The Eagles are 23-3 this season when shooting 23 or more three-pointers.
• The Blue and Green are 27-3 on the year when they drain five or more shots from beyond the arc.
• FGCU is 26-2 in 2010-11 when they knock down more three-point shots than their opponent.
• Nine of the 11 players who have seen time this season have at least two threes.
LEADER OF THE PACK
With 91 of her 107 made field goals coming from beyond the arc this season, junior Kelsey Jacobson ranks first in the A-Sun and is currently 8th in the nation at 3.0 treys per game. Jacobson has knocked down 91-of-237 three-pointers this season to also rank fifth in the league at a 38.4 clip. The Barnesville, Minn. native has made multi-threes in 25 of 30 games, highlighted by a 6-of-7 night against FIU that tied a career-high for makes.
Surrounding its opponents with a balanced scoring attack, FGCU has knocked down 331 threes this season compared to just 129 from its opponents. Led by junior Kelsey Jacobson’s 3.0 trifectas per contest, eight different players have made 10 or more shots from long range. Junior Eglah Griffin finished the regular season first the A-Sun in three-point percentage (.409), while Shannon Murphy (2.10) ranks 7th in the conference in 3-pointers made per game. FGCU is the only team in the A-Sun with three players in the top 8 in three-pointers made.
MAKING A LIVING FROM LONG RANGE
It’s no secret that junior Kelsey Jacobson is FGCU’s top three-point threat. Through 90 career games, Jacobson has knocked down 244 three-pointers and on Feb. 7 vs. ETSU, she became FGCU’s all-time leader in three-pointers. Jacobson has made a three in 46 straight games, 63 of her last 64 contests and 85 of 90 for her career. During her career, Jacobson has made 3+ threes 41 times, 5+ threes on 14 occasions and a career-best of six three times.
In the program’s nine-year history (276) games, FGCU has made at least one three-pointer in 275 contests, including 163 straight. The last and lone time the Eagles didn’t knock down a three was February 21, 2006 at Lynn. During the current 163-game run, the Blue and Green have knocked down 1,562 money balls while their opponents have knocked down 799 threes. In games that it has drained double-digit threes, FGCU is 98-7 all-time and 53-5 since moving to Division I in 2007-08.
GRIFFIN CAN SHOOT WITH THE BEST OF ‘EM
Eglah Griffin’s three point percentage (.409) leads the team and Atlantic Sun, but it also ranks her among the nations best shooters. The junior, who has knocked down 61-of-149 three-point attempts, ranks 24th in the country in three-point percentage.
FGCU RANKED #8 IN MID-MAJOR POLL
The Florida Gulf Coast women’s basketball team remained in the No. 8 spot in this week’s CollegeInsider.com Women’s Mid-Major Top 25 poll. This is the second consecutive week that the Blue and Green have been ranked No. 8.
The Eagles, the nation’s leader in three-pointers made per game (11.0), are the lone Atlantic Sun Conference team represented in this week’s Mid-Major Top 25.
ALLOW ME TO REINTRODUCE MYSELF
Sarah Hansen signed with FGCU on April 27, 2009, but utilized a redshirt during the 2009-10 season. Hansen took all of last season to work on her game and become acclimated and comfortable in Coach Smesko’s offense and it’s paying dividends in 2010-11.
Hansen currently ranks first on the team in field goal pct. (.532) and rebounds (5.9 rpg) and scoring (13.5 ppg). The redshirt-freshman’s .532 shooting percentage leads the A-Sun and ranks her 30th in the nation.
With three players averaging double figure points and three more at 7.0 points per game or higher, FGCU is second the A-Sun in scoring at a 71.3 per game clip. The Eagles have scored 73 or more points 15 times this season and are the only A-Sun team with a scoring margin larger than three-points (+14.9). Five different players have led the Blue and Green in scoring this season, led by 10 from freshman Sarah Hansen, eight from senior Shannon Murphy and six from juniors Eglah Griffin and Kelsey Jacobson.
GET READY, GET SET GO!
During its 17-3 record in A-Sun play, FGCU has got out of the gates quick to take control of the game. Over the first 20 minutes in each of their conference games, the Eagles outscored their opponents 722-534. Fueling that big differential is the fact that FGCU shot 43.7 percent (264-604) from the floor, while limiting their opponents to 36.3 percent (201-553) clip with 207 turnovers. Senior Shannon Murphy and redshirt freshman Sarah Hansen did the most damage individually in the first half, averaging 8.4 points and 8.3 points, respectively, by the break. Three of FGCU’s 15 A-Sun opponents didn’t reach 20 points at the half.
PROTECTING THE ROCK
Already shooting at an A-Sun-best 42.6 percent from the field, FGCU sports the conference’s lowest turnover per game rate at 13.9. The Eagles have +6.23 turnover margin which is also best in the A-Sun. Junior Courtney Chihil, who is T-eighth in the A-Sun in assists (3.83), leads the conference in assist/turnover ratio at +1.83. Senior Shannon Murphy is right behind Chihil in second place with a +1.49 ratio while ranking fifth in the A-Sun at 4.27 assists per game.
In 885 minutes of action this season, Kelsey Jacobson has launched 277 shots and assisted on 74 field goals, while turning the ball over just 34 times.