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Top-Seeded @FGCU_WBB Readies to Host no. 8 Lipscomb in #ASunWBB Quarterfinal
|Stats at a Glance||LIP||FGCU|
|FG Percentage||.280 (21-75)||.532 (33-62)|
|3P FG Percentage||.222 (6-27)||.538 (14-26)|
|FT Percentage||.833 (5-6)||.706 (12-17)|
BLISS - 2
HANSEN - 2
FORT MYERS, Fla. – Having already won its fourth-straight Atlantic Sun regular-season championship, the top-seeded FGCU women’s basketball team begins the journey to its second Atlantic Sun Conference Championship title Tuesday night as the team hosts no. 8 Lipscomb in a 7 p.m. game at Alico Arena.
HOW TO FOLLOW
The game can be viewed live on ESPN3 free of charge with David Moulton and J. Webb Horton on the call. Fans can also find live in-game updates via twitter (@FGCU_WBB) and through live stats available at StatBroadcast.
THE GREEN & BLUE
After earning a win over Northern Kentucky in the final home game of the regular season, the Eagles traveled to Stetson where they secured the regular-season championship with a 74-73 overtime win over their in-state rival. The team wrapped up the regular season with a record of 23-7 and a conference mark of 17-1.
The Eagles have scored 69.8 points per game this season, while holding opponents at 59.7 points scored per contest for an A-Sun best points allowed. In conference play, FGCU outscored the opposition by a margin of 18.6 points in 18 games and held foes to an average of 53.8 points per game.
Eagle opponents have held a rebounding advantage through 30 games this season with a 39.2 to 34.9 average but FGCU has maintained control of the ball with just 12.7 turnovers in conference play, while forcing 18.1 miscues per game. The team maintains a turnover margin of +4.70 to rank among the top seven percent of Division I teams.
Offensively, FGCU has recorded a shooting percentage of 41.0 this season with a clip of 34.5 percent from the perimeter. The team has made a combined 305 shots from long range, with an average of 10.2 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, while five others contribute at least three points per game for an all-around effort in each game.
Hansen sits atop of the team rankings with an average of 13.9 points per game. The senior captain also leads the squad with 7.2 rebounds per game and ranks fourth in the league with a team-high 58 steals on the season. Hansen has averaged over 15 points per game in the last month and has increased her career total to 1,857 points.
Knight adds 12.5 points per game and leads the team with 84 blocks on the year for a new single-season FGCU record. Knight ranks among the top-20 nationally with 2.79 blocks per game and leads the Eagles and the conference with 75 made shots from the perimeter.
Haas has continued to add to the Eagles’ offense this year and is currently averaging 11.7 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 point producers with 7.8 and 7.6 points per game, respectively. Cobb has added 73 assists on the year and has been a tremendous force on defense for the Eagles with 53 steals.
Sophomore DyTiesha Dunson (Albany, Ga./Westover High School) entered the Eagles’ starting lineup in January and has added 7.8 points per game in conference action. Dunson has also contributed 92 assists on the season with 86 of those in conference action and currently ranks 18th in the nation with an assist to turnover ratio of 2.71.
LAST TIME OUT
After 17 lead changes and 10 tie scores, the team earned its fourth-straight Atlantic Sun Regular Season Championship in dramatic fashion with a 74-73 win at Stetson Saturday afternoon. Stephanie Haas sank two free throws with 0.2 seconds on the clock in overtime to give FGCU the win. With the victory, the Eagles improved to 23-7 on the season with a 17-1 mark in conference action, while the Hatters fell to 24-6 overall and 16-2 in A-Sun play. The Eagles secured home-court advantage through the Atlantic Sun Championship with a no. 1 seed. The win snapped Stetson’s 16-game win streak and handed the Hatters their only loss at home this season.
The Eagles struggled from the floor and shot just 33.3 percent on the day but forced 21 Stetson turnovers for 23 points, while holding Stetson to eight points fewer than its season average through 45 minutes of play. The Eagles trailed 33-30 at the break but outscored the home team in the second stanza to send the game into overtime. With neither team ever holding more than a seven-point lead, the teams were knotted down the stretch. The Green and Blue outscored Stetson 8-7 in overtime to earn the win.
Overall, the Eagles were outshot 44.6 to 33.3 percent and outrebounded 48-37. The Eagles converted 15 shots from the perimeter but were held to just 10 field goals inside the arc.
Individually, Haas led the Eagles with 16 points on the day including the final two points of the game, while four others added double figures in the win. Knight produced 14 points, 10 rebounds and four blocks for FGCU, while Hansen scored 15.
The Eagles and Lady Bisons have faced off 13 times since the 2007-08 season. FGCU holds a perfect record of 13-0 against Lipscomb. The mark includes a win in Nashville earlier this season and a 108-67 victory at Alico Arena less than two weeks ago. The Green and Blue holds a 74.7 to 48.5 point per game advantage and has held Lipscomb to 60 points or fewer on all but two occasions.
LAST TIME AGAINST THE LADY BISONS
Backed by the highest point total in any FGCU DI game, the women’s basketball team defeated Lipscomb 108-67 on Feb. 27 at Alico Arena.
The Eagles used a shooting percentage of 67.6 in the first half with eight made shots from the perimeter to take a strong lead early in the game. The team produced a season-high 64 points in the first half and went into the break with a 64-27 lead. The Bisons increased their offensive production in the second half but were never able to cut the deficit to fewer than 32 points. The Eagles maintained the strong shooting performance and ultimately earned a 51-point victory.
Atwater paced the Eagles with a season-high 16 points, all in the first half, while six others produced double-figure points. Knight added 15 points with h Hansen and Moore each adding 13. Dunson contributed 12 points for FGCU and recorded a career-high nine assists.
Hansen led the Eagles’ rebounding effort with 10 boards for her fifth double-double of the season. Hansen led the Eagles’ rebounding effort with 10 boards for her fifth double-double of the season.
Collectively, the Eagles successfully converted a season-high 58.8 percent of shots with 12 made buckets from the perimeter and a 50 percent shooting clip. The team outrebounded Lipscomb 41-27 and turned the ball over just nine times, while forcing 14 Lipscomb miscues.
The game marked the 11th time in program history that the Eagles have scored 100 points or more.
SCOUTING NO. 8
- The Bisons of Lipscomb are currently 6-23 on the season with a record of 3-15 in Atlantic Sun action. The team is 2-13 on the road and most recently defeated beat ETSU in Nashville before concluding the season with a loss to USC Upstate.
- As a team, the Bisons have averaged 69.9 points per game, while allowing opponents to score a 83.5 points per contest. Lipscomb has shot 38 percent from the field this season with foes converting 46.5 percent of shots. The Bison pull down 36.1 rebounds per game, almost nine fewer than their opposition and turn the ball over an average of 15.5 times with 12.3 assists per contest.
- Danay Fothergill has led the Bison with 18.2 points per game since gaining eligibility in late December, while Ashley Southern has added 15.9 points per game. Redshirt freshman Chandler Cooper and Sara Bliss add 14.4 and 10.8 points per game, respectively with Cooper pacing the team with 59 3-point shots this season. Southern also leads the team’s rebounding effort with 11.3 boards per game and has recorded 21 double-doubles this season. Maya Dillard contributes to the offensive attack with 86 assists and 34 total steals.
- The duo of Fotherfill and Southern rank no. 1 and no. 2 in the Atlantic Sun scoring ranking. Together they average over 34 points per game, more than half the team’s average.
- Southern and Cooper were both honored on Monday by the Atlantic Sun. Southern was named to the Atlantic Sun Second Team All-Conference, along with also being named the A-Sun Newcomer of the Year. Cooper was named to the Atlantic Sun Conference All-Freshman Team.
- Southern is the league’s second-leading scorer at 15.9 per game and the A-Sun’s top rebounder at 11.3 per contest.
- Fothergill has three 30-plus point games this season to lead the league. She is second in the A-Sun with seven 20-plus point games and has averaged 16 points, 4.5 rebounds in 33 minutes of play against FGCU. She has drained 14-of-16 from the charity stripe in the two meetings.
- After finishing last season with a 3-26 record including a 2-16 mark in A-Sun action, the Bisons were selected to finish ninth in the conference this season. They finished the year ranked ninth in the 10-team league and earned the no. 8 seed in the tournament.
- The Lady Bisons are making their first tournament appearance since the 2010-11 season. That year, Lipscomb also was the No. 8 seed and lost to No. 1 ETSU 83-75 in Macon, Ga.
On the tails of the team’s fourth-straight Atlantic Sun Regular Season Championship, the team earned two of the league’s five major awards, as announced by the conference Monday afternoon. Head coach Karl Smesko earned his fifth Atlantic Sun Coach of the Year award, while Hansen was named Atlantic Sun Player of the Year for the second-straight year and earned a position on the All-Conference First Team for the third-consecutive year. Hansen was the team’s only unanimous selection and sits as only the 10th conference player to ever earn first-team honors for three years. Knight also picked up a First Team All-Conference nod in her first season back from injury.
THE PLAYOFF PICTURE
The Eagles will host no. 8 Lipscomb on Tuesday night at Alico Arena in the quarterfinal round. Following the quarterfinals, the remaining four teams will travel to the highest-remaining seed for the semifinals and finals, scheduled for Saturday and Sunday.
Assuming the Eagles are not upset on Tuesday, the Green and Blue will face the winner of the no. 4 Jacksonville v. no. 5 Mercer game on Saturday afternoon.
On the other side of the bracket, no. 2 Stetson hosts no. 7 Kennesaw State on Tuesday night. The winner will face the winner of no. 3 USC Upstate v. no. 6 ETSU on Saturday afternoon.
SINCE THE LOSS
After compiling a 44-game win streak in regular season Atlantic Sun action that spanned 1,067 days, the Eagles were defeated at Northern Kentucky a month ago. However, since the loss, the Eagles have produced nine wins by an average margin of 23 points including a 108-67 victory over Lipscomb for the Eagles’ highest point total in an Atlantic Sun game. The team has shot 45 percent from the field with a 38 percent clip from 3-point range and has averaged 79.1 points per game since falling in Highland Heights. The team has also forced 18.1 opponent turnovers, while recording just 10.9 miscues per game and has grabbed 10.8 steals. FGCU has outrebounded foes in five of those games and has seen Hansen, Haas, Dunson, Cobb and Knight all produce an average of over nine points per game. Last week, the Eagles defeated NKU 67-53 to avenge the only blemish on an otherwise perfect conference season.
The Green and Blue currently hold a 54-game home win streak against Atlantic Sun foes. The team has won 54 consecutive Atlantic Sun games at Alico Arena since January of 2009 and currently holds an all-time home record of 64-1 in conference play at home since the 2007-08 season.
The Eagles currently hold the conference’s best win percentage in Atlantic Sun tournament play with a mark of .833. FGCU is 5-1 in two years of postseason eligibility with three wins for the championship in 2012 and two wins and a loss in the championship game last season.
The Eagles have scored an average of 84.8 points per game when Smesko wears a tie. That includes five wins in five games.
Backed by a 3-point shooting mark of 34.6 percent, the Eagles have made an average of 10.2 long-range shots per game this season. The tally ranks the Eagles second among the nation’s 349 times, behind only Sacramento State, who has tallied 12.2 3-pointers a game this season. Sacramento State is currently on pace to set the NCAA record for 3-point average, previously set by the Eagles in 2012.
Of the Eagles’ 2,094 points scored this season, 43 percent have been scored from distance.
The Green and Blue have a strong history in 3-point shooting, as the Eagles have made 3,342 shots from beyond-the-arc in just 12 years. The team has also made a 3-pointer in 373 of the team’s 374 games and is currently riding a 261 game streak with at least one shot made from the perimeter.
The Eagles currently hold three NCAA records for 3-point shooting including single game (22 made at ETSU last season), single season (342 made in 2012) and average shots made per game (10.7 in 2012).
Individually, 2012 graduate Kelsey Jacobson sits alone as the A-Sun’s all-time leader in career 3-pointers with 330 made in just three seasons.
Smesko’s game preparation is one of the most crucial factors in the Eagles’ all-time success. This season, the team is 14-2 in games when they have had four or more days to prepare. In 12 seasons, Smesko holds a record of 108-20 in games with that much time for preparing for a win percentage of 84 percent. For Tuesday’s game, Smesko had just two days to prepare.
The Eagle reserves have averaged just 16.5 points per game this season. However, since the beginning of February, the team has increased the bench production to 30 points per game including a season-high 40 points off the bench in the win over Lipscomb.
In her final year as an Eagle, Hansen is ensuring her mark will be left at FGCU. The senior currently holds 11 all-time program records including the top marks in points, rebounds, steals and games started. She most recently set the mark for most minutes played by an FGCU player and has currently seen 3,758 minutes on the court for FGCU. In 127 games, Hansen has averaged 29.4 minutes per game.
Among Atlantic Sun competitors, Hansen now ranks eighth in career points with 1,857 and sits just 35 points from taking over the seventh position. Hansen also ranks among the top 20 producers in rebounds for the Atlantic Sun. With 859 boards, Hansen needs just 19 rebounds to take over the 18th position.
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.
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.
Despite just a 12-year presence, the FGCU women’s basketball team boasts a rich history. Led by 12th-year Head Coach Karl Smesko, the Eagles have produced a program record of 311-63 for a remarkable win percentage of 83 percent. Smesko has produced ten 20-win seasons since the program’s inception with two seasons that eclipsed the 30-win mark.
After playing for the NCAA Division II National Championship in 2007, the team joined the Division I ranks for the 2007-08 season. In their first year of Division I play, the Eagles won 29 games for the fourth most in NCAA history, while producing the third-highest winning percentage of a first-year team at 90.6. After a four-year transition period, the Eagles made the NCAA Tournament in their first year of postseason eligibility. Since making the transition to DI, the Eagles have compiled a record of 179-42 and have finished atop the Atlantic Sun standings four times in five years. In the last three seasons, the Eagles have lost just one Atlantic Sun game.
FOR MORE INFO
For all the details on Tuesday’s matchup check out:
As the no. 1 seed, the Eagles will maintain home-court advantage through the A-Sun Conference Championship. With a win over Lipscomb, the Green and Blue will face the winner of the no. 4 Jacksonville v. no. 5 Mercer matchup on Saturday afternoon. The game will take place at either 1 p.m. or 3 p.m. with the semifinal game from the other side of the bracket slated for the other time slot. The A-Sun Final is scheduled for Sunday, March 16 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 conference tournament 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.