FLORIDA GULF COAST
3/15/2014 | Alico Arena - Fort Myers, Fla. | Attendance: 1684
|FLORIDA GULF COAST||40||24||64|
|Stats at a Glance||MER||FGCU|
|3P FG Percentage||.000
FLORIDA GULF COAST
3/16/2014 | Alico Arena - Fort Myers, Fla. | Attendance: 1821
|FLORIDA GULF COAST||27||33||12||72|
|Stats at a Glance||STET||FGCU|
|3P FG Percentage||.381
FORT MYERS, Fla. – For the third time since gaining postseason eligibility three years ago, the FGCU women’s basketball team will play for the Atlantic Sun Championship on Sunday afternoon. The Eagles moved to 25-7 on the season with a 64-47 win over no. 5 Mercer on Saturday afternoon at Alico Arena. For the third-straight year, the Eagles will take on no. 2 and in-state rival Stetson University in the final.
After trading the lead four times early in the first half, the Eagles mounted a 17-4 run to take a double-figure lead. Another streak gave the home team a 20-point advantage at the break. Led by Jenna Cobb (New Holland, Ohio/Miami Trace High School), the Eagles increased their lead to a game-high 29 points before Mercer cut the deficit with a 14-2 run in the final five minutes of the game. With the win, the Eagles earned their 100th Division I victory at Alico Arena and increased the home win streak against Atlantic Sun foes to 57 games.
“I thought we played an excelled first half,” said head coach Karl Smesko of the semifinal victory. “We really executed well in those last ten minutes. We got great looks at the basket, Jenna did a great job knocking down shots, Whitney did a great job finding open people, Sarah [Hansen] got us some great offensive rebound opportunities. Defensively, I thought we did a great job. We went into halftime with a nice cushion and extended that in the second half.”
Cobb paced the Eagle offense with 22 points on the day. She converted 7-of-10 shots from the field with five buckets from 3-point range. Sophomore Whitney Knight (Winston-Salem, N.C./R.J. Reynolds High School) added 13 points and seven rebounds for the Green and Blue, while Kaneisha Atwater (Fort Pierce, Fla./Fort Pierce Westover High School) contributed nine points and seven rebounds.
As a unit, the Eagles shot 38.7 percent from the field with a 32.3 percent success rate from beyond-the-arc, while holding Mercer to35.2 percent and no long-range shots. The team was outrebounded 41-35 but edged the Bears in the turnover battle, 15-9.
The Eagles opened the game with a steal and a fast-break layup from Atwater before two-quick 3-pointers from Cobb gave FGCU an 8-2 lead in the first three minutes. The Bears responded with an eight-point run of their own to take a 10-8 lead with 14:30 on the clock.
The teams traded the lead four times before Knight, Jaime Gluesing (Solon, Ohio/Solon High School) and Sarah Hansen (McKean, Pa./General McLane High School) combined for three quick jumpers to reclaim the lead for FGCU. The Eagles added onto their production to produce a 24-6 run that spanned the end of the first half.
The Bears put up one basket and two free throws in the final six minutes but were outscored 7-0 in the final 90 seconds of action.
At the break, FGCU held a 40-20 lead.
The Eagles extended their advantage to 22 points in the opening minutes of the second half and with help from seven-straight points from Cobb the team increased the score to 55-28 with 13 minutes remaining in the game.
FGCU maintained the hearty lead and with a jumper from Katie Meador (Salem, Ill./Salem Community High School) produced a game-high 29 point lead with six minutes to play. Mercer bounced back to produce a 14-2 run in the final five minutes but the comeback was not enough as FGCU earned a 64-47 win.
The Eagles will vie for the title on Sunday afternoon for the third-straight season. The Green and Blue have faced the Hatters in each of the last two years, with each team earning one win. The winner of Sunday’s final will earn the league’s automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.
Sunday’s game will be streamed online via ESPN3 and can be watched live on television on CSS or listened to via FGCUathletics.com.
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 still available. Fans can reserve their seat(s) by visiting the Alico Arena Ticket Office, calling 239-590-7145 or logging on to FGCUAthletics.com/Tickets.