(6-9 (1-3 A-Sun))
FLORIDA GULF COAST
(9-6 (3-0 A-Sun))
1/11/2014 | Alico Arena - Fort Myers, Fla. | Attendance: 1630
|FLORIDA GULF COAST||36||36||72|
|Stats at a Glance||UPST||FGCU|
|3P FG Percentage||.182
FORT MYERS, Fla. – With four double-digit scorers and a season-high team rebounding effort, the FGCU women’s basketball team defeated USC Upstate 72-45 Saturday night at Alico Arena to remain undefeated in Atlantic Sun play. With the win the Eagles improve to 9-6 on the year with a 3-0 conference record, while the Spartans fall to 6-9 and 1-3 in league play.
The Eagles took a 6-0 lead to open the game and extended the advantage to 10 points in the first six minutes of play. The team forced 12 first-half turnovers and held a 17-point lead before the break. FGCU maintained control and used an 11-1 run to increase the lead to a game-high 29 points midway through the second half. The Spartans were able to cut the deficit to 20 points in the final two minutes but the Eagles used seven-straight points to end the game and earn the 72-45 victory.
Individually, the Eagles saw strong performances from several players. Jenna Cobb (New Holland, Ohio/Miami Trace High School/Butler) and Whitney Knight (Winston-Salem, N.C./R.J. Reynolds High School) led the Eagles’ offensive effort with 12 points each, while Stephanie Haas (Avon Lake, Ohio/Magnificat High School) and Sarah Hansen (McKean, Pa./General McLane High School) also produced double-digits on the night with 11 and 10 points, respectively. Sophomore DyTiesha Dunson (Albany, Ga./Westover High School) recorded a season-high nine points in her first start of the season. Dunson also added four assists to lead the Eagles for the third-consecutive game.
Led by eight rebounds from sophomore Katie Meador (Salem, Ill./Salem Community High School), the Eagles pulled down a season-high 50 boards. Kaneisha Atwater (Fort Pierce, Fla./Fort Pierce Westwood High School/VCU) added seven in the defensive effort, with Hansen, Cobb and Jaime Gluesing (Solon, Ohio/Solon High School) all contributing six. The strong defensive game also saw a season-high five steals from Cobb which added to the team’s season-high 17 steals.
As a team, the Eagles shot 35 percent from the field, while holding the Spartans to 29 percent. FGCU allowed Upstate to convert just 22 percent of shots in the first half alone. The Eagles also outrebounded their opponent, 50-45 and forced 23 turnovers.
“I thought our defensive play in the first half was excellent. It was probably our best defensive performance in quite some time,” said head coach Karl Smesko. “We had a game plan that I thought was well executed, we had great intensity on defense, everyone was doing their part on the boards and it was really encouraging. It gave us a little bit of a cushion even though we shot the ball poorly.”
Baskets from Knight, Haas and Dunson started the contest for the Eagles and gave the home team a quick 6-0 lead. The Spartans scored their first bucket three minutes into the game before FGCU used a 15-4 run to take control of play with a 21-4 lead with 11:30 remaining.
The Eagles forced four Spartan turnovers in the first ten minutes and held the visiting team to single digits until the seven-minute mark.
With four minutes to play in the first half, the Spartans made their first 3-pointer of the game and cut the deficit to 14 points on a jump shot. Hansen responded quickly for the Eagles with a 3-pointer and gave the team a 17-point lead that it carried into halftime.
With a 36-19 lead, the Eagles used a three from Haas and a fast-break layup from Knight to extend the lead to 22 points in the opening minutes of the second half. The Spartans challenged the Eagles briefly but allowed the home team to produce an 11-1 run midway through the half to extend the lead to a game-high 29 points.
Upstate responded with a 9-1 run of its own to bring the score to 59-39 but Amanda Moore (Seymour, Ind./Seymour High School) cut the streak with a 3-point shot with 4:30 on the clock.
The teams traded baskets before Meador, Gluesing and Bethany Murrell (New Palestine, Ind./New Palestine High School) combined for seven-straight points to end the game for the Eagles. The all-around effort gave FGCU a 72-45 victory.
The win marked the Eagles’ 49th straight Atlantic Sun victory at home and increased the team’s all-time home record in conference play to 58-1. The team has also won 39-consecutive regular season conference games.
The game against the Spartans concludes a three-week home stand for the Eagles. The team will continue Atlantic Sun action next week when they travel to Georgia for a pair of games.
“It’s one thing to win these conference games at home,” added Smesko. “But now we have to go on the road and show some toughness and continue to improve even while we travel.”
FGCU will take on Kennesaw State on Thursday, Jan. 16 at 7 p.m. before facing Mercer on Saturday, Jan. 18 at 3 p.m.
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.