FLORIDA GULF COAST
(14-6, 8-0 A-Sun)
(3-16, 0-8 A-Sun)
1/30/2014 | Nashville, Tenn. (Allen Arena) | Attendance: 236
|FLORIDA GULF COAST||29||56||85|
|Stats at a Glance||FGCU||LIP|
|3P FG Percentage||.395
NASHVILLE, Tenn. – After trailing by 10 points late in the first half, the FGCU women’s basketball team produced a 30-point turnaround to earn an 85-67 victory over Lipscomb Thursday night at Allen Arena. With the win, the Eagles remain undefeated with a record of 8-0 in Atlantic Sun action and hold a 14-6 overall mark. The Lady Bison fall to 3-16 overall and 0-8 in conference play.
The home team took an initial lead and pressured the Eagles through the first half. The Lady Bison extended their advantage to a game-high 10 points with five minutes remaining in the half before the Eagles exploded for a comeback. Led by 10 points from sophomore Kaneisha Atwater (Fort Pierce, Fla./Fort Pierce Westwood High School/VCU), the Green and Blue produced a 17-2 run to end the half with a 29-24 lead. Sparked by a shooting percentage greater than 50 percent in the second half and a season-high 15 3-pointers, the Eagles increased their lead to a game-high 21 points and ultimately took their eighth win of the conference season with their highest point total of the year.
“We were really sluggish to start the game,” said head coach Karl Smesko of the team’s win. “I give Lipscomb a lot of credit; they had a game plan and they were executing it very well. The change came when we started to play with much better pace and energy. I thought Kaneisha Atwater gave us a great lift and Sarah Hansen had a big second half for us. We had a lot better play overall, especially in the second half and that really helped.”
Senior Sarah Hansen (McKean, Pa./General McLane High School) led the Eagles’ offensive production with 18 points, while Atwater put up 14 and Jenna Cobb (New Holland, Ohio/Miami Trace High School/Butler) contributed 12 points. Three others added strong numbers for FGCU as Stephanie Haas (Avon Lake, Ohio/Magnificat High School) and Whitney Knight (Winston-Salem, N.C./R.J. Reynolds High School) each scored nine points and Katie Meador (Salem, Ill./Salem Community High School) recorded a season-high eight points.
Haas, Hansen and Meador paced the Green and Blue rebounding effort with six each, while DyTiesha Dunson (Albany, Ga./Westover High School) led the team with six assists.
As a unit, the Eagles shot 45.3 percent from the field, while holding the Lady Bison to a mark of 35.6 percent. The high shooting percentage included a second-half efficiency of 53.1 percent. The team converted 39.5 percent of shots from beyond-the-arc, with 10-of-21 made in the second half, and made 66.7 percent of its free throws. The Eagles also outrebounded the Lady Bison 43-36 and produced a season-high 21 assists.
The Eagles were slow to start and saw as the home team quickly produced a 5-0 lead in the opening minutes of the game. A 3-pointer from Meador put the Eagles on the scoreboard but the Lady Bison maintained a slight advantage.
With 13 minutes to play in the first half, the Eagles cut the score to 8-7 but the Lady Bison were quick to respond. The teams traded baskets before Lipscomb constructed a seven-point run to take an 18-9 lead. After an FGCU timeout, Cobb sank a shot from beyond-the-arc in an attempt to stop the Lady Bison, but the home team added four-straight points to increase their lead to 22-12 with 5:30 left to play. The 10-point deficit tied the largest lead of an FGCU opponent in Atlantic Sun action this season.
Knight cut the Eagle drought with a 3-pointer with 5:05 on the clock before Cobb drove to the basket to improve the score to 22-17. Atwater broke up the Lipscomb attack with a steal and brought the score to 22-19 on a fast-break layup to increase the Eagle run to seven-straight points and force Lipscomb to call timeout.
The Lady Bison scored quickly out of the timeout but were unable to stop the FGCU retaliation. Eight-straight points from Atwater on a layup and two long-range shots tied the game at 24 with 2:35 to play and gave the Eagles their first lead of the game at 27-24. Haas added two points on a second-chance layup at the buzzer to give FGCU a 29-24 lead at the break.
The Eagle comeback was based on the strength of a 17-2 run, which included 10 points from Atwater. The Green and Blue forced nine missed shots and two turnovers for the home team in the span of five minutes.
Lipscomb opened the second half with a quick jumper from its leading scorer, but the Eagles quickly produced a 7-2 run to extend the advantage to 37-28 with 16 minutes to play. The teams traded baskets before a layup by Hansen sparked another run for the Eagles.
After Hansen’s layup, the Green and Blue strung together five-consecutive long-range buckets to increase the lead to a game-high 21 points at 57-36. The streak included baskets from Meador, Knight, Dunson, Cobb and Hansen. Lipscomb responded with several 3-pointers of its own but could never cut the deficit to fewer than 14 points.
Although the pace of the game slowed in the final minutes, the Eagles maintained the hearty advantage and in turn earned an 85-67 win.
The second-half point total of 56 points ranks as the highest-scoring half the Eagles have produced this season. The Eagles also recorded a season-high in total points, 3-pointers made and assists.
The win marks the Eagles’ 44th-consecutive regular season conference win and their eighth-straight win this season. The 44-game streak leads the nation, while this season’s run ranks among the top 13 in the NCAA.
FGCU will continue the road swing with a 7 p.m. contest at Northern Kentucky University on Saturday, Feb. 1. The A-Sun matchup will be broadcast on ASun.TV live from The Bank of Kentucky Center in Highland Heights, Ky.
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.
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