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@FGCU_WBB Continues Road Trip at Mercer Saturday
|FLORIDA GULF COAST||32||37||69|
|Stats at a Glance||FGCU||MER|
|FG Percentage||.418 (23-55)||.357 (20-56)|
|3P FG Percentage||.371 (13-35)||.200 (2-10)|
|FT Percentage||.667 (10-15)||.938 (15-16)|
KNIGHT - 1
MACON, Ga. – The FGCU women’s basketball team will look to remain undefeated in Atlantic Sun Conference play as the Eagles face Mercer University on Saturday, Jan. 18. The contest at Hawkins Arena is scheduled for 3 p.m. and can be viewed live on ASun.TV.
THE GREEN & BLUE
For the fifth-consecutive year, the Eagles have started league action with a 4-0 record. FGCU defeated Kennesaw State on Thursday evening and currently stands at 10-6 on the season.
The Eagles have scored 67.2 points per game this season, with an average of 71.5 points scored in conference games. The team has allowed opponents to 63.7 points per contest overall but have held league opposition to just 53.5 points in four games so far this season. Opponents have controlled the glass through 16 games with a 41.2 to 34.3 margin, while the Eagles have maintained control of the ball at just 14.3 turnovers per game. FGCU has forced 18.1 miscues per game this season with 9.2 steals per game and has held its foes to a shooting percentage of 40.3 from the field and just 29.9 from beyond-the-arc.
Offensively, FGCU has successfully converted 39.5 percent of shots with a 33 percent clip from 3-point range. The team has made a combined 149 shots from long range, with an average of 9.3 per game to rank sixth among the NCAA’s 349 teams and to top the conference rankings.
The Eagles will look to extend a 40-game win streak on Saturday. The team has won 40 consecutive Atlantic Sun games in the last three seasons for the nation’s second-best streak. Only Baylor holds a longer streak at 46 straight conference wins.
Senior captain Sarah Hansen (McKean, Pa./General McLane High School) currently leads the Eagles with 14.0 points and 6.9 rebounds per game. Hansen also paces the team and the Atlantic Sun with 42 steals on the year.
Redshirt-Sophomore Whitney Knight (Winston-Salem, N.C./R.J. Reynolds High School) adds 12.9 points per contest and leads the team with 44 blocks. Knight ranks among the top 20 nationally with 2.75 blocks per game and leads the Eagles with 36 made shots from beyond-the-arc.
Sophomore Stephanie Haas (Avon Lake, Ohio/Magnificat High School) has consistently led the Eagles this season and is currently averaging 12.5 points per contest with 34 total assists.
Transfers Kaneisha Atwater (Fort Pierce, Fla./Fort Pierce Westover High School) and Jenna Cobb (New Holland, Ohio/Miami Trace High School) round out the Eagles’ top contributors with 8.1 and 6.9 points per game, respectively. Cobb leads the team with 39 assists on the year and has been a force for the FGCU defense this season.
Sophomore DyTiesha Dunson (Albany, Ga./Westover High School) entered the Eagles’ starting lineup two games ago and has added 9.3 points per game in conference action including a career-high 17 points in the win over Kennesaw State. Dunson has also contributed 15 assists through four conference games.
GAME DAY TWEETABLES
- FGCU and Mercer have met 12 times since 2007 with the Eagles holding an impressive 12-0 record. The Green and Blue have outscored the Bears by an average of 80.9 to 57.5 points per game.
- Saturday marks the final time the Eagles will compete at Hawkins Arena in an Atlantic Sun contest as the Bears are set to join the Southern Conference on July 1, 2014.
- FGCU’s recent starting five (Atwater, Dunson, Hansen, Haas, Knight) have averaged 85 percent of the team’s 71.5 points per game in conference action.
- Head Coach Karl Smesko picked up his 350th career win against FIU on Nov. 8. That’s a career record of 358-92 & a win percentage of .800. He coached his 450th career game on Thursday.
- Hansen currently ranks 12th in the Atlantic Sun all-time scoring list with 1,663 career points. If she continues on pace with 14 points per game, she will rank among the top eight of the league’s best athletes. The senior also ranks among the top 30 in rebounds with 754 career boards.
- With three made free throws last weekend, Hansen took over as the program’s all-time leader. Hansen has made 371 shots from the charity stripe in 114 career games and currently sits atop the program record books in eight categories.
- The FGCU women’s basketball program currently stands at 298 wins dating back to the 2002-03 season.
LAST TIME OUT
Despite a second-half surge by Kennesaw State, the team picked up its fourth double-digit Atlantic Sun win Thursday night at the KSU Convocation Center. With the 69-55 victory, the team began conference play with a perfect 4-0 record for the fifth-consecutive year.
Led by 10 points from Dunson, the Eagles took control in the first half. FGCU capitalized on nine Kennesaw turnovers to score 14 points and went into the break with a 36-24 advantage. The Owls challenged the Eagles in the second half and cut the deficit to just two points midway through the half but FGCU responded to outscore the home team 27-15 in the final 10 minutes to earn the win.
Dunson led all players with a career-high 17 points, while Haas added 16 for the Green and Blue. Hansen 14 points, all in the second half with Atwater scoring 11 in 25 minutes of action.
Hansen’s all-around game aided in the Eagle-win as the captain added seven rebounds, six assists, three steals and one block. Hansen recorded zero turnovers in 33 minutes.
Collectively, the Eagles shot 40 percent from the field with a 33.3 percent success rate from 3-point range. The Owl’s second-half surge increased their shooting percentage to 41.8 percent on the night. The home team shot 20 percent from beyond-the-arc and 75 percent from the free-throw line.
The Owls held a 38-34 advantage on the glass but turned the ball over 15 times compared to the Eagles’ seven miscues.
FGCU and Mercer have met 12 times since 2007. The Eagles currently hold a perfect 12-0 advantage in the win column and have outscored the Bears by an average of 80.9 to 57.5 points per game. The Bears challenged FGCU with single-digit point margins through five games between 2008 and 2010 but the Eagles have since outscored Mercer by at least 27 points in six games since. The Eagles’ biggest win was a 98-50 victory over Mercer in 2012. Last season, FGCU earned a 70-41 win in Macon before defeating the Bears 89-62 at Alico Arena.
LAST TIME AGAINST THE BEARS
The Eagles and Bears last met during the final weekend of the 2012-13 season at Alico Arena. FGCU scored first and never relinquished the lead. The home team ultimately extended its lead to 32 points late in the second half and earned an 89-62 victory. FGCU saw over 10 points from five different players including Hansen and then freshman Jaime Gluesing (Solon, Ohio/Solon High School) en route the team’s 17th Atlantic Sun win of the season. The Eagles shot 54 percent from the field and sank 9-of-13 shots from 3-point range, while holding Mercer to 37 percent. FGCU also recorded single-digit turnovers at nine and forced 16 Mercer mistakes.
SCOUTING THE HOME TEAM
- The Bears of Mercer are 9-7 this season with a 2-3 Atlantic Sun record. The team started the year with a 7-4 nonconference record before earning wins over North Florida and Lipscomb but falling to Jacksonville, Northern Kentucky and Stetson. The team is 4-3 at home this year.
- As a team, the Bears are averaging 64.1 points per game this season, while allowing opponents to 65.7 points per contest. The Bears have successfully converted 39.2 percent of shots from the field and 26.1 percent of shots from long range. Bear foes are shooting 38.4 percent this season with a 31.4 percent clip from beyond-the-arc. The Bears average just 12.4 turnovers per game, while dishing out 13.7 assists and grabbing 5.4 steals.
- The Bears boast a versatile lineup with six players to watch this season. Offensively, the team is led by two Preseason All-Atlantic Sun Team members in junior guards Precious Bridges and Brianna Williams. Bridges has averaged a team-high 17 points per games this season and has grabbed a team-leading 22 steals but did not see the court against Stetson and is unlikely to play on Saturday due to a health issue. Williams adds 12 points per game and currently leads the conference in career 20+ point games. She put up 14 points in 26 minutes in the team’s loss to Stetson on Thursday. Mercer also capitalizes on two others averaging over 10 points per game in Kendra Grant and Alicia Williams. The duo has averaged 11.5 and 11.2 points per game, respectively and combined for 30 points against Stetson. Sharnea Boykin has facilitated the offense this season with 107 assists and ranks 13th in the nation in assists per game. Boykin recorded eight assists while playing all 40 minutes against Stetson. Defensively, Teanna Robinson currently leads the nation with 4.31 blocks per game and pulls down 11.5 rebounds per game. The junior swatted seven shots against Stetson.
- The Bears earned the no. 3 seed in last season’s Atlantic Sun Conference tournament after finishing the season with a record of 20-12 overall and 13-5 in conference. The team fell to Stetson in the semifinal but went on to play in the Women’s Basketball Invitational. This season, the Bears were selected to finish third in the conference preseason poll, behind just FGCU and Stetson.
On the heels of two perfect Atlantic Sun seasons, the FGCU women’s basketball team was predicted to continue its success as the preseason favorite in both the Atlantic Sun Conference Preseason Coaches’ Poll and the A-Sun Media poll.
With 97 points, the Eagles finished nine points ahead of defending A-Sun Tournament Champion Stetson in the coaches’ poll, while FGCU earned 327 points in the media poll. The Green and Blue picked up seven of the league’s 10 first-place votes in the coaches poll and was voted as the top-ranked team 30 times by the media.
It was the fifth-consecutive year that the Eagles’ earned the league’s top vote after winning the A-Sun regular season in four of the last five seasons. In six seasons of A-Sun action, the Eagles hold a record of 100-12. The impressive mark includes a 36-game win streak in regular-season play that dates back to 2011 and a 45-game win streak at Alico Arena.
The Eagles also picked up numerous individual preseason awards with Hansen leading the way. Hansen was named the Atlantic Sun Preseason Player of the Year, the Atlantic Sun Fan-Voted Preseason Player of the Year and the College Sports Madness Preseason Player of the Year. Knight earned Atlantic Sun Preseason All-Conference nod, while Dunson was voted by the fans as the Defensive Preseason Player of the Year. As the reigning A-Sun Coach of the Year, Smesko was named the Preseason Coach of the Year by College Sports Madness to begin this season.
The Eagles will return to the friendly confines of Alico Arena next weekend as they host Jacksonville and the University of North Florida. Tipoff against JU is slated for 7 p.m. on Thursday, Jan. 23.
FOR MORE INFO
For more information on Saturday's matchup check out:
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2013-14 women’s basketball season tickets and single-game 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.