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@FGCU_WBB Visits USC Upstate as Road Swing Continues
|FLORIDA GULF COAST||41||35||76|
|Stats at a Glance||FGCU||UPST|
|FG Percentage||.381 (24-63)||.426 (23-54)|
|3P FG Percentage||.333 (16-48)||.357 (5-14)|
|FT Percentage||.706 (12-17)||.667 (18-27)|
KNIGHT - 1
SPARTANBURG, S.C. – The FGCU women’s basketball team will conclude a four-game road trip with a Saturday afternoon contest at USC Upstate. The contest at the Hodge Center is slated for 2 p.m. and will be available live and free of charge on ESPN3 with Jason Patterson calling the play-by-play and Michael Keel as color commentator.
Both teams will honor the ‘Think Pink’ initiative in an effort to support the Kay Yow Cancer Fund and the Play 4 Kay organization during Saturday’s game. Since its inception in 2007, Play 4Kay has raised over $2.8 million to support women's cancer research. The Kay Yow Cancer Fund is the official charity of the initiative. To date, the Fund has contributed over $3.8 million for women's cancer research.
THE GREEN & BLUE
The defending regular-season champion Eagles began conference play at 8-0 for the third-consecutive year and but fell to Northern Kentucky last week to snap a multi-year regular season conference win streak. The team got back on track with a win on Thursday night and currently sits at 9-1 in Atlantic Sun action. The Eagles hold a first-place tie with in-state rival Stetson and maintain an overall record of 15-7.
The Eagles have scored 66 points per game this season, while holding opponents at 60.6 points scored per contest for a conference-best points allowed. In conference play, FGCU has outscored the opposition by a margin of 13.4 points through 10 games.
Eagle opponents have controlled the boards through 22 games this season with a 40.3 to 34.5 advantage, while the Eagles have maintained control of the ball with just 14.1 turnovers per game. FGCU has forced 17.8 opponent turnovers per game this season for a turnover margin that ranks among the top 10 percent of Division I teams.
Offensively, FGCU has recorded a shooting percentage of .391 this season with a clip of .334 from the perimeter. The team has made a combined 212 shots from long range, with an average of 9.6 per game to rank second among the nation’s 349 teams.
The Eagles boast three double-digit producers in senior Sarah Hansen (McKean, Pa./General McLane High School) and sophomores Whitney Knight (Winston-Salem, N.C./R.J. Reynolds High School) and Stephanie Haas (Avon Lake, Ohio/Magnificat High School). All three players rank among the top-20 scorers in the conference.
Hansen sits atop of the team rankings with an average of 13.2 points per game. The senior captain also leads the squad with 6.7 rebounds per game and ranks second in the league with a team-high 50 steals on the season.
Knight adds 12.9 points per game and leads the team with 63 blocks on the year. Knight ranks among the top-20 nationally with 2.9 blocks per game and leads the Eagles and the conference with 55 made shots from the perimeter.
Haas has continued to add to the Eagles’ offensive attack this season and is currently averaging 11.3 points per contest, while 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 7.2 points per game, respectively. Cobb leads the team with 57 assists on the year and has been a tremendous force on defense for the Eagles with 36 steals.
Sophomore DyTiesha Dunson (Albany, Ga./Westover High School) entered the Eagles’ starting lineup one month ago and has added 6.8 points per game in conference action. Dunson has also contributed a team-high 40 assists through 10 conference games.
GAME DAY TWEETABLES
- FGCU’s recent starting five (Atwater, Dunson, Hansen, Haas and Knight) have averaged 77 percent of the team’s 66 points per game in conference action.
- The Eagles have faced two of the nation’s top three scorers this season in FIU’s Coley and Stanford’s Ogwumike. The duo combined for 12 fewer points than their average against FGCU.
- The Eagles’ nation-high win streak in regular season conference action was snapped at NKU last weekend. The streak spanned 1,067 days.
- FGCU currently ranks second in the nation with 9.6 3-point shots made per game.
- The Eagles boast three players that rank among the league’s top 20 scorers in Hansen, Knight and Haas.
- The team recently earned its 300th win against Jacksonville. All wins have come under the leadership of Coach Smesko, who holds a career record of 363-93.
- Of the Eagles’ 1,452 points this season, 43.8 percent have been scored from beyond-the-arc.
- Hansen currently ranks 12th among all-time A-Sun scorers with 1,730 points and 23rd in all-time rebounding at 792 boards. She sits 10 points and one rebound from the next position.
- The Eagles have made 3,254 3-pointers in 366 games for an average of 8.9 per game through 12 years.
- Hansen set her 10th all-time program record Thursday with her 118th career start.
- Spartanburg, S.C. is 588 miles from the campus of FGCU.
- The Eagles have seen 166 variations players on the court this season but have used just three different starting lineups.
- FGCU has produced five games with 10 turnovers or fewer.
- With five blocks, Knight will become the FGCU all-time program leader at 122 swatted shots.
- The Eagles finished the month of January with a mark of 8-0.
LAST TIME OUT
Backed by four double-digit scorers, the team defeated East Tennessee State University 70-45 Thursday night to improve to 15-7 on the year and 9-1 in conference action. The victory secured a position in the Atlantic Sun Championship Tournament for the Eagles for the third-consecutive season.
The Eagles outshot the Bucs by 10 percent with a success rate of 41 percent from the field and made 14-of-36 3-point attempts, while holding ETSU to just four made shots from beyond-the-arc. FGCU forced 17 ETSU turnovers, while grabbing 13 steals and dishing out 14 assists. The Eagles were barely edged on the glass at 39-38 rebounds.
Individually, junior Cobb paced the team with 14 points, while Hansen added 12 to the Eagles’ offensive surge. Dunson and Katie Meador (Salem, Ill./Salem Community High School) also contributed double-figures for FGCU with 11 and 10 points, respectively, while the Eagles saw nine points each from Knight and Haas.
Hansen led the Eagles on the glass with nine rebounds, while Dunson pulled down seven and dished out five assists. Cobb added five steals to the all-around effort.
Saturday will mark the 13th meeting between the Eagles and the Spartans, dating back to the 2007-08 season. The Eagles hold a 10-2 advantage in the all-time series with a five-game win streak, including a win earlier this season at Alico Arena.
The Eagles have never scored fewer than 70 points in a contest against USC Upstate and currently hold an average margin of victory of 18 points. FGCU has averaged 74 points in games against Upstate, while holding the Spartans to 52 points in 12 meetings.
LAST TIME AGAINST THE SPARTANS
With four double-digit scorers and a season-high team rebounding effort, the Eagles defeated USC Upstate 72-45 Jan. 11 at Alico Arena to remain undefeated in Atlantic Sun 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. Cobb (and Knight led the Eagles’ offensive effort with 12 points each, while Haas and Sarah also produced double-digits on the night with 11 and 10 points, respectively.
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.
SCOUTING THE HOME TEAM
- The Spartans of USC Upstate hold a record of 11-10 on the year and a mark of 6-4 in Atlantic Sun play. The Spartans won five straight A-Sun contests since losing to FGCU on Jan. 11 but fell to Stetson on Thursday evening.
- As a unit, the Spartans are averaging 63.8 points per game, while allowing foes to score 70.3 points per contest. The team is shooting 37.6 percent from the field with a 26.5 percent success rate from 3-point range. The Upstate defense has allowed opponents to 39.3 percent from the floor but has held foes to just 29.6 percent from long range. The team has pulled down 40.4 rebounds per game, while turning the ball over an average of 16.8 times.
- The group is led by sophomore Brittany Starling, who averages 10.6 points and 7.3 rebounds per game. The post player has converted 48 percent of shots this season but has added 42 turnovers. Brittany Clency adds 10.6 points per game for the Spartans and has dished out 50 assists on the year, while Shelby Hicks leads the team with 21 blocks and 22 steals and has started 12 games for Upstate. The trio each produced strong games at Alico Arena in January and combined for 27 points and 22 rebounds. The Spartans saw strong performances from Raven Jefferson and Valese McAllister in Thursday’s contest with Stetson. Jefferson paced the team with 14 points, 10 above her season average, while McAllister pulled down a 16 rebounds after averaging just five per game in her 18 previous appearances.
- The Spartans finished the 2012-13 season with a record of 12-18 and a conference record of 8-10 and missed the Atlantic Sun Championship tournament. The team was selected to finish eighth in the Atlantic Sun in this year’s preseason poll but currently sits at fifth in the conference standings.
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.
FOR MORE INFO
For all the details on Saturday’s matchup check out:
After the afternoon matchup in Spartanburg, the Eagles will return to Alico Arena for games against Mercer and Kennesaw State next weekend.
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 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.