@FGCU_WBB Survives Spartans; Defeats USC Upstate 76-69
Saturday, February 08, 2014 | by Jamie Church (@jlchurch)
Sarah Hansen led the Eagles with 26 points  Photo Credit: Linwood Ferguson/Captive Photons
Sarah Hansen led the Eagles with 26 points Photo Credit: Linwood Ferguson/Captive Photons
FLORIDA GULF COAST (16-7, 10-1 A-Sun)
USC Upstate (11-11, 6-5 A-Sun)
2/8/2014 | Spartanburg, S.C. (Hodge Center) | Attendance: 345
USC Upstate303969
Stats at a GlanceFGCUUPST
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)
Offensive Rebounds910
Defensive Rebounds2533
Total Rebounds3443
Bench Points2521
Statistical LeadersFGCUUPST
PointsHANSEN - 26
ReboundsHANSEN - 8
AssistsDUNSON - 8
StealsCOBB - 3
BlocksDUNSON - 1

SPARTANBURG, S.C. – Backed by a season-high 26 points from Sarah Hansen, the FGCU women’s basketball team earned its 10th Atlantic Sun win of the season with a 76-69 victory over USC Upstate Saturday afternoon at the Hodge Center.  The Eagles improve to 16-7 on the season and 10-1 in conference play with the win, while the Spartans fall to 11-11 and 6-5 in A-Sun action.

The Eagles took control of the game midway through the first half and extended their lead to a game-high 18 points in the early minutes of the second stanza.  The team maintained the advantage through the majority of the contest and held a 14-point lead in the final four minutes, but saw as the Spartans produced a challenge late in the game.  A 10-point run enabled the home team to cut the deficit to just four points in the final minute of action, but free throws down the stretch helped the Eagles survive the scare and earn a 76-69 win.

“It was a good win today,” said head coach Karl Smesko.  “We started out the second half with a big lead and I give Upstate a lot of credit for fighting back and making it a really tough game.  Fortunately we were able to hold on.”

Sarah Hansen (McKean, Pa./General McLane High School) led all players with 26 points on the day with a career-record six made 3-point shots.  The senior captain also pulled down eight rebounds and dished out two assists.  Sophomore Katie Meador (Salem, Ill./Salem Community High School) contributed a career-high 13 points on 5-of-7 shooting, while Whitney Knight (Winston-Salem, N.C./R.J. Reynolds High School) added 10 points and six rebounds.   DyTiesha Dunson (Albany, Ga./Westover High School) scored nine points for the Eagles and dished out a career-high eight assists to round out the Eagles’ top performers.  Each of the six others that saw time on the court for FGCU scored three points in the Eagles’ win.

Overall, the Eagles shot 38.1 percent from the field and connected on 16-of-48 3-point shots.  The mark is the highest total of the year for the Eagles in both 3-pointers made and 3-pointers attempted.  FGCU allowed the home team to successfully convert 42.6 percent of its shots with a 35.7 percent clip from 3-point range.  The Spartans also outrebounded FGCU with an advantage of 43-34 on the glass.  The Eagles dished out 20 assists and recorded just 13 miscues, while forcing 18 Upstate turnovers.

The start of the matchup saw the Spartans and Eagles trade baskets but the Eagles were able to take a slight lead quickly as each of their first four field goals were from 3-point range.  Four minutes in, the Eagles held a 14-6 advantage.

The Spartans responded to the FGCU lead with nine-straight points to cut the deficit to one point and added another string of four points to reclaim the lead at 19-16 with 13 minutes remaining in the half.

Less than 30 seconds later, Meador tied the game at 19 on a layup and a made free-throw after being fouled on the basket.  Hansen followed with a layup before the Eagles sank three-consecutive 3-pointers to construct a 14-point run and take a 30-19 lead midway through the first half.

The Spartans were resilient and challenged the Eagles through the remaining minutes of the first half.  However, the Eagles continued to make shots from beyond-the-arc and extended their lead to 11 points with four minutes on the clock.

Another Eagle 3-pointer from Anthi Chatzigiakoumi (Athens, Greece/General Senior High School of Kallithea) put the Green and Blue ahead 13 points in the final minute before Upstate made two free throws to bring the score to 41-30 at the break.

The Spartans started the second half with a jump shot but the Eagles produced a 15-5 run with help from 3-pointers from Hansen, Stephanie Haas (Avon Lake, Ohio/Magnificat High School) and Kaneisha Atwater (Fort Pierce, Fla./Fort Pierce Westwood High School/VCU) to extend their lead to a game-high 18 points four minutes into the second half. 

The teams traded baskets for the next seven minutes before Upstate produced a six-point streak to cut the deficit to 68-57 points with eight minutes to play.  Meador stopped the Spartan run with a layup but the home team produced two free-throws to bring the game back to 11 points. 

Sophomore Amanda Moore (Seymour, Ind./Seymour High School) hit the Eagles’ 16th 3-pointer with 3:35 on the clock but the home team did not stop its offensive charge.

The Spartans responded with a jumper six seconds later and went on to produce a 10-point run over a span of three minutes to bring the score to 73-69 with 49 seconds to play.

After an FGCU timeout, Knight sank two free throws to extend the lead to six points.  The Spartans missed three field goals and two free throws in the final 20 seconds of action to help the Eagles earn the win.  Meador sank one final free throw in the final three seconds to bring the final score to 76-69.

With the win, the Green and Blue maintains a first-place tie with in-state rival Stetson University in the Atlantic Sun standings. 

The Eagles will return to Alico Arena next week for a series with Mercer and Kennesaw State.  The Green and Blue will honor the Play 4 Kay initiative in its own ‘Think Pink’ game on Thursday, Feb. 13 against Mercer.  Tipoff is slated for 7 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.