@FGCU_WBB Holds Off Saint Francis University for Sixth Win
Saturday, December 21, 2013 | by Jamie Church (@jlchurch)
Play Video Senior Sarah Hansen led the team with 17 points, 12 rebounds and nine steals in the win
Senior Sarah Hansen led the team with 17 points, 12 rebounds and nine steals in the win
Saint Francis U (2-7)
12/20/2013 | Alico Arena - Fort Myers, Fla. | Attendance: 1453
Saint Francis U284068
Stats at a GlanceSFUFGCU
FG Percentage.347 (26-75) .364 (24-66)
3P FG Percentage.258 (8-31) .346 (9-26)
FT Percentage.727 (8-11) .545 (18-33)
Offensive Rebounds1915
Defensive Rebounds3433
Total Rebounds5348
Bench Points2112
Statistical LeadersSFUFGCU
PointsHAYWARD - 20
COBB - 17
ReboundsKEEGAN - 8
AssistsBROCK - 4
COBB - 5
StealsWILLIAMS - 2
BlocksHAYWARD - 1

FORT MYERS, Fla. – Backed by double-double performances from Sarah Hansen and Whitney Knight, the FGCU women’s basketball team defeated Saint Francis University 75-68 Friday night at Alico Arena as part of the 2013 Hilton Garden Inn/Homewood Suites Classic.  With the win, the Eagles improve to 6-4 on the season and maintain a perfect 4-0 mark at home, while the Red Flash fall to 2-7.

The win was highlighted by strong individual statistical performances that saw several season and career milestones.

Hansen (McKean, Pa./General McLane High School) led the Eagles with 17 points and 12 rebounds in 35 minutes of action.  The senior also recorded a career-high nine steals and sat just one theft away from the program’s first ever triple-double.  Knight (Winston-Salem, N.C./R.J. Reynolds High School) added 14 points and 12 boards for the Green and Blue and also tied her career-high with six blocks.  Junior Jenna Cobb (New Holland, Ohio/Miami Trace High School) helped Hansen lead the Eagles’ offensive effort with a season-high 17 points and a team-high seven made field goals.  Cobb also added five assists.  Sophomore Stephanie Haas (Avon Lake, Ohio/Magnificat High School) rounded out the Eagles’ double-figure scorers with 12 points on the night.

Although the Eagles ultimately pulled out a seven-point victory, the home team’s substantial first-half lead was challenged by the Red Flash early in the season half.  SFU took control of the game midway through the second half but could not maintain the advantage.  The Eagles reclaimed the lead with timely shots in the final minutes and earned their sixth victory of the nonconference slate.

“It was a very difficult game for us,” explained head coach Karl Smesko.  “I thought we had chances in the first half to get a nice cushion.  We were getting a lot of layups but we missed a lot of layups and most of our free throws so we put them in a position to give us a real scare.  I give them a lot of credit. They played with a lot of energy and made great plays.”

As a unit, the Eagles outshot the Red Flash from the field, 36.4 percent to 34.7 percent and from 3-point range, 24.6 percent to 25.8 percent.  SFU held a slight advantage on the glass but the Eagles pulled down a season-high 48 rebounds on the night. 

Defensively, the Green and Blue forced 25 Red Flash turnovers, recorded a season-high 16 steals and swatted a season-best seven blocks.

While holding the Red Flash scoreless for the first five minutes of the contest, the Eagles used a layup from Haas and a 3-point bucket from Cobb to begin the game with a five-point lead.   SFU cut its scoring drought with a jump shot but saw as the Eagles increased their advantage to eight points with a string of baskets. 

The Red Flash responded to cut the deficit to five points midway through the half before Knight single-handedly outscored SFU 7-2 in the next 90 seconds to give the Eagles a 21-11 lead.  Two free throws from DyTiesha Dunson (Albany, Ga./Westover High School) and a 3-pointer by Hansen capped a 12-2 run for the Eagles to give the team its largest lead of the game at 26-13.

The Eagles surrendered five-straight points to the Red Flash before the teams traded baskets to end the half.  A layup from Kaneisha Atwater (Fort Pierce, Fla./Fort Pierce Westwood High School/VCU) in the final second gave FGCU a 38-28 lead as the teams entered the break.

Saint Francis began the second half with an increased sense of urgency.  The Red Flash outscored the Eagles 9-1 in the first two minutes of the stanza to cut the FGCU advantage to just two points.

After an FGCU timeout, Cobb drove to the basket to increase the Eagles’ lead back to four points but the visitors followed a jumper and a triple to take its first lead of the game.  Saint Francis then went ahead 44-41 on a layup produced from an offensive rebound.

The teams traded the lead eight times through the middle of the second half with neither team taking more than a four-point lead. With 9:40 left on the clock, the score was knotted at 51.

One minute later, Cobb broke through with a steal and a fast-break layup to reclaim the momentum for the Eagles.  Although the Red Flash continued to challenge, the Eagles never relinquished the advantage and outscored SFU, 17-12 in the final eight minutes of the game to seal the win.   

The Eagles will face a quick turnaround as they are set to take on The University of Virginia to conclude the Hilton Garden Inn/Homewood Suites Classic at 7 p.m. on Saturday.  The Cavaliers fell to Tulane, 79-72 in overtime in the first contest of the tournament. 

For up-to-the-minute information and behind-the-scenes access to the women’s basketball program, follow @FGCU_WBB on Twitter and Instagram, and “Like” us on Facebook at /FGCUWBB.

2013-14 women’s basketball season tickets are selling quickly. Fans can reserve their seat(s) by visiting the Alico Arena Ticket Office, calling 239-590-7145 or logging on to FGCUAthletics.com/Tickets.