Tournament Preview: No. 1 Eagles Set to Compete in Program's First A-Sun Tournament
Wednesday, February 29, 2012 | by Mike Hill (@mike_hill84)
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Photo Credit: Dennis Snyder
Photo Credit: Dennis Snyder
ETSU (8-22 (7-11 ASun))
at
Florida Gulf Coast (27-2 (18-0 ASun))
2/29/2012 | Macon, Ga. - University Center | Attendance: 511
1st2ndFinal
ETSU342963
Florida Gulf Coast384179
Stats at a GlanceETSUFGCU
FG Percentage.400 (26-65) .423 (22-52)
3P FG Percentage.188 (3-16) .346 (9-26)
FT Percentage.800 (8-10) .867 (26-30)
Offensive Rebounds811
Defensive Rebounds2232
Total Rebounds3043
Turnovers912
Steals78
Bench Points4019
Statistical LeadersETSUFGCU
PointsBOND - 13
HANSEN - 22
ReboundsMITCHELL - 6
GRIFFIN - 8
AssistsGORDON - 5
KENNEDY - 7
StealsGORDON - 3
HANSEN - 3
BlocksBOND - 1
HANSEN - 4

MACON, Ga. – The Eagles, who have won 18 consecutive games and have the seventh best win-loss percentage in the nation, will look to continue their winning ways when they compete in the program’s first Atlantic Sun Conference Tournament Feb. 29-Mar. 3 at Mercer’s University Center. No. 1 FGCU will take on No. 8 ETSU on Feb. 29 at 12:00 p.m. in a quarterfinal matchup that can be seen live on ESPN3.com.

No. 1 FGCU (26-2, 18-0 A-SUN) vs. No.8 ETSU (8-21, 7-11 A-SUN)
TOURNAMENT CENTRAL   

DATE: Wednesday, February 29, 2012
TIME: 12:00 P.M. ET
SITE: Macon, Ga. - University Center (3,200)
LIVE STATS: FGCUATHLETICS.com
TV: ESPN3.COM
TALENT: Paul Crane & Dee Romine
LIVE AUDIO: 770ESPN.COM
TALENT: David Moulton & Mark Miller
SERIES: 10th Meeting; FGCU leads 7-2
LAST MEETING: FGCU 71, ETSU 64 on Feb. 25 at MSHA Athletic Center
CURRENT STREAK: W 18
LAST 20: 19-1
LAST 25: 24-1
UP NEXT WITH A WIN: Fri., March 2 vs. winner of #4 UNF/#5 Kennesaw St. @ noon

KNOW YOUR OPPONENT: ETSU BUCS
- The Lady Bucs trail the all-time series with FGCU, 7-2, and have lost the last five games in the series, including a 71-64 setback in the final regular season conference game of this season (Feb. 25). Sophomore Destiny Mitchell (Bluffton, Ga.) scored a game-high 23 points (9-of-17 shooting) and pulled down a career-high 20 rebounds, to become the first ETSU player since two-time A-Sun Player of the Year, Siarre Evans, to register a 20-point, 20-rebound game and the first A-Sun player to accomplish the feat this season.

- The last time the Lady Bucs defeated FGCU was back on Jan. 16, 2010 when ETSU knocked off the Eagles by five, 88-83, in Johnson City.

- The Lady Bucs had won eight of their last nine home finales and 12 of their 14 since 1997-98, prior to Saturday night’s loss to the Eagles. Before losing to FGCU on Saturday afternoon, the last time ETSU lost a home finale was on Feb. 28, 2009 when the Blue and Gold suffered a 90-79 setback to Mercer.

FGCU NOTES
LAST TIME OUT: 18-0! Eagles Make History with Perfect A-Sun Regular Season (Feb. 25)

Sophomore Sarah Hansen (McKean, Pa./General McLane HS) recorded her fourth double-double of the season with 20 points and 12 rebounds as the No. 29 FGCU women’s basketball team defeated Atlantic Sun foe ETSU, 71-64, to secure a perfect A-Sun regular season on Saturday afternoon at the ETSU/MSHA Athletic Center. • With its 18th straight victory, FGCU improves to 26-2 overall (18-0 A-Sun), while the Lady Bucs fall to 8-21 (7-11 A-Sun) on the season. The Eagles are now 7-2 all-time against ETSU. • The Green and Blue’s 18-0 conference record is the first undefeated A-Sun season since 1995-96 when FIU achieved the feat and only the third occurrence in league history. FGCU’s 18 A-Sun victories also tie the 2009-10 ETSU Lady Bucs squad in the Atlantic Sun record books for the most conference wins in a season. • Since joining the A-Sun in 2007-08, the Eagles have 126 victories, which rank FGCU first all-time in conference history for wins in a 5-year span. The previous record (125) was held by FIU (1994-98). • Hansen, who led the Green and Blue in points and rebounds, shot 5-of-11 from the field and 10-of-11 from the charity stripe. • The Eagles, who lead the nation in three-point field goals per game (10.9), knocked down 10-of-25 shots from behind the arc and now have 304 triples as a team. FGCU is now 37 triples away from breaking the NCAA record for three-pointers in a season (340), which is currently held by the 2009-10 Morehead St. team.

UP NEXT
If the No. 1 Eagles win their first round matchup with the No. 8 Lady Bucs, the Green and Blue will then take on the winner of No. 4 UNF vs. No. 5 Kennesaw State in the semifinal round on Friday, Mar. 2 at 12:00 p.m. ET.

PICKIN’ UP POSTSEASON HARDWARE
After winning the Atlantic Sun regular season championship for the third time in five years, the FGCU women’s basketball team earned a few more honors on Monday, Feb. 27. The conference announced their postseason honors and awards, with FGCU taking home four awards.

FGCU earned its fifth first team (first unanimous) selection in program history as Sarah Hansen followed up her second team selection last season by averaging a team-best 13.8 points and 6.3 rebounds and ranking second on the Eagles in steals (1.9) and blocks (17). Hansen, who sits eighth all-time in scoring in program history with 813 points, also ranked in the top-15 in the A-Sun in six categories (points, rebounds, FG Pct., FT Pct., steals, blocks). The redshirt-sophomore, who also earned A-Sun Women’s Basketball Scholar-Athlete of the Year honors, scored in double figures 21 times this season, leading the Eagles in scoring in 11 contests.

Senior Kelsey Jacobson, the nation’s leader (among active players) in career three-point makes, earned second team All-Atlantic Sun honors, helping the Eagles secure their ninth 21-plus win season in the 10 year program history. Jacobson, who led the A-Sun in three-pointers made per game (2.7), picked up postseason honors for the first time since her freshman year (2008-09), when she earned A-Sun Freshman of the Year and All-Freshmen team. The biology major scored in double figures 16 times this season and has made multi-threes in 18 of 28 games this season.

Freshman Whitney Knight, the team leader in blocks, was selected to the All-Freshmen team. In A-Sun games, Knight ranked in the top-5 (among freshmen) in three categories (points, FG Pct.,blocks). The frosh tallied 3+ blocks on 10 occasions this season.

Senior Courtney Chihil, top five in several statistical categories in program history and a 3.97 GPA student-athlete, earned a selection to the A-Sun Academic All-Conference team.

FGCU’s Karl Smesko claimed a regular season conference crown for the third time in the program’s existence as his squad amassed a perfect 18-0 conference mark earning him Coach of the Year.

A-SUN TOURNEY HISTORY
Making its first A-Sun postseason appearance in its first year of postseason eligibility, FGCU looks to be only the third team in Atlantic Sun history to win the Atlantic Sun Championship in its first appearance. Lipscomb (2004) and Miami (1991) were the only other schools to win in their first appearance.

FGCU IN FEBRUARY
• FGCU has an all-time record of 64-8 in games played in February.
• Since moving to Division I in 2007-08 the Eagles hold a 35-5 overall record in the month of February; 34-5 vs. Atlantic Sun conference opponents.

FGCU IN MARCH
• FGCU has an all-time record of 20-6 in games played in March.
• Since moving to Division I in 2007-08 the Eagles hold an 12-4 record in the month of March; 1-0 vs. A-Sun competition

AWAY FROM HOME
FGCU has an 89-28 all-time record as the visiting team. Since moving to Division I, the Eagles have compiled a 45-21 road record.

NEUTRAL SITE GAMES
Since moving to Division I in 2007-08, the Green and Blue have compiled a 9-2 record in neutral site contests. FGCU’s two neutral site losses came at the hands of the BGSU Falcons (74-60) at the Cornell Classic in Ithaca, N.Y. on Nov. 30, 2007 and NC State (69-64) in Hawaii this season (Dec. 28).

EIGHT CONSECUTIVE 21-WIN SEASONS
The Eagles secured their eighth-straight 21+ win season with a 70-60 victory at JU (Feb. 4). The Green and Blue now have nine 21+ win seasons in program history. The lone year that the Eagles failed to win 21 games was during the 2003-04 campaign, when FGCU went 18-8.

Over the last eight seasons, the Eagles have accumulated 210 wins and 39 losses.

3-TIME A-SUN REGULAR SEASON CHAMPS
FGCU captured the program’s third A-Sun Regular Season crown with their 79-56 win over Stetson (Feb. 18). The Eagles’ other two regular-season championships came in 2010-11 and 2008-09. FGCU finished both the 2010-11 and 2008-09 campaigns with a 17-3 record in A-Sun play.

The Eagles have won 13+ A-Sun games in five straight seasons. FGCU is 82-12 in conference play over the last five years and has won 45 of its last 50 Atlantic Sun regular season games over the past three seasons.

LOCK IT UP
FGCU clinched the program’s first spot in the A-Sun Tournament with a 58-51 win over Kennesaw State on Jan. 28.

With their 79-56 win over Stetson (Feb. 18), the Eagles secured the outright A-Sun Regular Season title and the No. 1 seed in the Atlantic Sun Tournament.

HISTORY BUFFS
With their win over the Lady Bucs on Sat. Feb. 25, the Eagles became just the third team (second school) to go undefeated in A-Sun play. FIU completed the feat twice as a member of the A-Sun (1992-93 & 1995-96).

The win also gave FGCU 18 A-Sun wins on the year, which tied the 2009-10 ETSU Lady Bucs squad for the most conference victories in a season.

DEFENSE WINS CHAMPIONSHIPS
In their last nine games, FGCU their opponents to just 55, 51, 61, 60, 54, 34, 56, 63 and 64 points, respectively. The Eagles, who lead the conference in scoring defense (52.8 ppg), have held opponents below 65 points 25 times this season, while also holding this year’s opponents below 55 points or fewer on 16 occasions.

HANDLING BUSINESS IN ROAD CONFERENCE GAMES
FGCU is 9-0 in A-Sun road contests so far this season, defeating every conference opponent on their home court.

The Eagles won the games by an average of 17.1 points and shot 45.0 percent (225-of-500) from the floor and 36.4 percent (82-of-225) from behind the arc, while the opposition is shooting 192-of-476 (40.3 percent) from the field and 37-of-117 (31.6 percent) from three-point range.

ALL WE DO IS WIN
Since joining the A-Sun in 2007-08, the Eagles have 126 victories, which rank them first all-time in conference history for wins in a 5-year span. The previous record (125) was held by FIU (1994-98).

The Green and Blue also have 54 wins over the last two seasons and now own the best 2-year win total in conference history. The Eagles’ 52 wins from 2009-11 and FIU’s 52 wins from 1993-95 now rank second in A-Sun history.

WE ARE...FGCU
Finishing the regular season 18-0 in A-Sun action, FGCU is one of eight teams in the nation that are undefeated in conference play (Delaware, St. Bonaventure, Baylor, Princeton, Stanford, American, Middle Tenn.). Also, with a 26-2 overall record, the Eagles are one of seven 26+ win teams in the nation (thru games played on Feb. 26).

BEATING DEFENDING CONFERENCE CHAMPS

The Eagles have picked up a trio of wins over defending conference champs so far this season.

The Green and Blue knocked off defending Big 10 champ Michigan State, 59-58, at Alico Arena in the 2011-12 home opener on Nov. 19. FGCU then went on the road and defeated defending Conference USA champ UCF, 75-36, at UCF Arena (Dec. 8) and defending A-Sun champ Stetson, 59-55, at the Edmunds Center (Jan. 21) and 79-56, at Alico Arena (Feb. 18).

GET THAT OUTTA HERE
Whitney Knight finished the regular season ranked 2nd in the A-Sun with 1.8 blocks per game (49 total blocks). Her 1.8 blocks rank her t-65th in the nation (as of Feb. 23), while her 48 blocks rank her 2nd in FGCU history behind Robyn Swain (121).

PESKY DEFENDER
Brittany Kennedy leads the Eagles in steals and is second on the team in rebounds. The Oregon State transfer also ranks 2nd in the conference in steals (in A-Sun games) and has registered a steal in 17 of 21 games she has played in.

Kennedy has also shown flashes of being a lock-down defender. She held A-Sun leading scorer Briana Williams (Mercer) to 3pts and 7pts in their two meetings and forced 2012 A-Sun Player of the Year Victoria McGowan (Stetson) into 12 TOs in two games.

LEAVING A MARK ON THE FGCU RECORD BOOKS
Courtney Chihil has scored 966 points, made 116 three-pointers, grabbed 590 rebounds, recorded 197 steals and dished out 317 assists in her four-year career in the FGCU Blue and Green.

She is currently at or near the top five in all five of those categories:

Points
1. 1415 - Adrianne MCNALLY (128 games) - 2006-10
2.   1243 - Kelsey JACOBSON (120 games) - 2008-Present
3. 1185 - Shannon MURPHY (124 games) - 2007-11
4. 1062 - Kate SCHRADER (65 games) - 2005-07
5. 966 - Courtney CHIHIL (116 games) - 2008-Present

3-point field goals made
1.   324 - Kelsey JACOBSON (120 games) - 2008-Present

5. 133 - Jen CONELY (66 games) - 2005-07
6.   116 - Courtney CHIHIL (116 games) - 2008-Present

Rebounds
1. 658 - Adrianne MCNALLY (240o-418d) - 2006-10
2. 640 - Robyn SWAIN (236o-404d) - 2002-04
3.   590 - Courtney CHIHIL (182o-408d) - 2008-Present

Steals
1.   197 - Courtney CHIHIL - 2008-Present

2.  168 - Shannon MURPHY - 2007-11

Assists
1. 419 - Shannon MURPHY - 2007-11
2. 338 - Megan JONES - 2002-05
3. 335 - Adrianne MCNALLY - 2006-10
4.   317 - Courtney CHIHIL - 2008-Present

THE BIG 3
Sarah Hansen, Nicoya Jackson, and Kelsey Jacobson have combined to account for 46.1 percent (34.5 points per game) of FGCU’s scoring. The trio is also shooting .437 (312-of-714) from the floor and .340 (122-of-359) from long distance.

BALANCED ATTACK
With three players averaging double figure points and three more at 8.0 points per game or higher, FGCU is first the A-Sun in scoring at a 74.8 per game clip. The Eagles have scored 80 or more points eight times this season and are the only A-Sun team with a scoring margin larger than 6.0 points (+22.1). Six different players have led the Blue and Green in scoring this season, led by 11 from Sarah Hansen, six from Kelsey Jacobson, four from Eglah Griffin, and two from Nicoya Jackson, Courtney Chihil, Amber Rechis and Whitney Knight.

PROTECTING THE ROCK
Shooting an A-Sun-best 43.7 percent from the field, the Eagles lead the league with a +7.07 turnover margin. Courtney Chihil, who ranks 8th in the A-Sun in assists (3.1), leads the conference with a 2.0 assist/turnover ratio. Nicoya Jackson has a 1.68 ratio while also ranking 9th in the A-Sun at 2.7 assists per game.

NATION’S BEST
FGCU’s three-point prowess has been the program’s calling card from day one and the 2011-12 version of the Eagles is no different. FGCU leads the nation with an average of 10.9 threes per game, nearly one trifecta in front of second place UT Martin (10.1). As a team, FGCU has drained double-digit threes in 16 games this season.

RANK   TEAM             3-PT FG/GAME
1.        FGCU                   10.9
2.        UT Martin              10.3
3.        Fresno State          9.8
4.        Youngstown State    9.6

THREE IS THE KEY
• The Eagles are 21-0 this season when shooting 23 or more three-pointers.
• The Green and Blue are 20-1 on the year when they drain eight or more shots from beyond the arc.
• FGCU is 25-2 this season when they knock down more three-point shots than their opponent.

GUNNIN’ FOR THE NCAA RECORD
The Eagles, who own the A-Sun’s single season record for three-pointers (350; 2010-11), are 37 triples away from breaking the NCAA record for three-pointers in a season (340; 2009-10), which is currently held by Morehead St. FGCU’s 350 trifectas in 2010-11 weren’t a NCAA record because the Eagles were ineligible to set NCAA records due to the 4-year reclassifying period.

3’S PLEASE!
In the program’s nine-year history (306) games, FGCU has made at least one three-pointer in 305 contests, including 193 straight. The last and lone time the Eagles didn’t knock down a three was February 21, 2006 at Lynn. During the current 193-game run, the Green and Blue have knocked down 1,885 money balls while their opponents have knocked down 896 threes. In games that it has drained double-digit threes, FGCU is 115-8 all-time and 70-6 since moving to Division I in 2007-08.

RAPID FIRE
Surrounding its opponents with a balanced scoring attack, FGCU has knocked down 304 threes this season compared to just 90 from its opponents. Led by Kelsey Jacobson’s 2.7 trifectas per contest, six different players have made 30 or more shots from long range. The Eagles have four players ranked in the A-Sun’s top-15 in 3-point field goals made per game.

A-SUN ALL-TIME LEADER
Kelsey Jacobson now has 324 career triples and sits alone as the A-Sun’s all-time leader in career three-pointers.  The previous record holder was former Stetson Hatter Kristen Follis (275; 1990-94).

MAKING A LIVING FROM LONG RANGE
It’s no secret that Kelsey Jacobson is FGCU’s top three-point threat. Through 120 career games, Jacobson has knocked down 324 three-pointers and on Feb. 7, 2011 vs. ETSU, she became FGCU’s all-time leader in three-pointers in just three seasons. Jacobson, who currently holds the Atlantic Sun record for three-pointers in a season (96), has made a three in 89 of her last 94 contests and 111 of 120 for her career. During her career, Jacobson has made 3+ threes 52 times, 5+ threes on 17 occasions and a career-best of eight twice.

Ranking 1st in the A-Sun and 22nd in the nation at 2.7 treys per game, 75 of Jacobson’s 90 made field goals this season have come from beyond the arc. The Barnesville, Minn. native has made multi-threes in 18 of 28 games this season.

HEAD AND SHOULDERS ABOVE THE COMPETITION
Kelsey Jacobson has 324 career three-pointers made. She currently ranks 1st in the nation (among active players) in career three-pointers with St. Bonaventure senior Jessica Jenkins (321).

AMONG THE BEST
With at least 2 games remaining in her collegiate career, Kelsey Jacobson is on pace to finish with 330 career three-pointers made, which would rank her t-13th in NCAA Division I history. She is currently 15th.

FGCU RANKED #3 IN MID-MAJOR POLL
The Florida Gulf Coast women’s basketball team earned the No. 3 spot, for the sixth consecutive week, in this week’s version of the CollegeInsider.com Women’s Mid-Major Top 25 poll that was released on Tuesday evening (Feb. 21). Delaware and Green Bay are the two teams ranked higher than FGCU in this week’s poll. The Eagles trail the Phoenix by 31 points for the No. 2 slot.

The Mid-Major Poll is made up of teams from the following conferences: America East, Atlantic Sun, Big Sky, Big South, Big West, Colonial, Great West, Horizon, Independents, Ivy, Metro Atlantic, Mid-American, Mid-Eastern, Missouri Valley, Northeast, Ohio Valley, Patriot, Southern, Southland, Southwestern, Summit, Sun Belt, West Coast Conference.

PICKIN’ UP VOTES IN THE NATIONAL POLLS
The FGCU women’s basketball team received 17 votes to rank No. 28 in this week’s USA Today/ESPN Top 25 Coaches’ Poll that was released on Tuesday, Feb. 28. The Eagles also received eight votes to rank No. 32 in this week’s AP Top 25 that was released on Monday, Feb. 27.

This marks the 10th time in program history that the Eagles have earned votes in both polls in the same week.

GETTIN’ LOVE FROM ESPN
In the fifth edition (Feb. 13) of the mid-major top 10 written by ESPN’s Graham Hayes, the Eagles picked up the No. 4 spot. The mid-major top 10 returns with the same ground rules. All conferences beyond the BCS six (ACC, Big 12, Big East, Big Ten, Pac-12, SEC) qualify for consideration.

Here’s what Hayes said about FGCU:

4. Florida Gulf Coast - Since a five-point loss against NC State in Hawaii on Dec. 28, Florida Gulf Coast has won 15 in a row, 12 of those games by double digits. That probably says something about both the Eagles and the Atlantic Sun, but if the past week in women’s college basketball proved anything, it’s that winning isn’t ever a given. Florida Gulf Coast hit just two 3-pointers in Saturday’s win against Belmont, missing 17 shots from the arc, but such shooting woes for the nation’s most prolific 3-point shooting team don’t matter much when you limit the league’s third-place team to 34 points and 31 percent shooting.

Mechelle Voepel in her Feb. 24 blog entry mentioned head coach Karl Smesko as a candidate for national coach of the year.

Here’s what Voepel said about Smesko:

Florida Gulf Coast’s Karl Smesko: He has the Eagles soaring in the first season they are eligible for the Division I NCAA tournament. They are 25-2 overall and 17-0 in the Atlantic Sun.

RATING PERCENTAGE INDEX (RPI)
In the Collegiate Basketball News Women’s RPI College Basketball Ratings (for games through Feb. 19), the Eagles were ranked No. 65 and were the only A-Sun school ranked in the top 100.