FLORIDA GULF COAST
11/20/2013 | Alico Arena | Attendance: 1673
|FLORIDA GULF COAST||42||36||78|
|Stats at a Glance||CHA||FGCU|
|3P FG Percentage||.438
FORT MYERS, Fla. – Despite a push from Charlotte in the final minutes of the game, the FGCU women’s basketball team picked up its third-consecutive triumph with a 78-73 victory Wednesday night at Alico Arena. With the win, the Eagles improve to 3-0 for the first time since the 2010-11 season. The 49ers fall to 1-3.
After starting the contest with a 7-0 deficit, the Green and Blue responded to take control of play. The Eagles were challenged several times through the game but never relinquished the lead. In a scoring frenzy that ended the game, the Eagles outscored the 49ers, 17-14, in the final four minutes of play to seal the five-point win.
“It’s a really good win for us,” said head coach Karl Smesko. “The level of competition for us just jumped up. We were able to make enough plays in the second half to win. In that last four minutes we saw great plays from Steph Haas and Whitney [Knight]. We hit a couple of big shots in that last few minutes and that was really the difference.”
The Eagles’ offensive effort was led by four double-digit scorers. Sophomore Stephanie Haas (Lake Avon, Ohio/Magnificat High School) led the team with a career-high 19 points, while senior Sarah Hansen (McKean, Pa./General McLane High School) added 17 points and a team-high seven rebounds. Whitney Knight (Winston-Salem, N.C./R.J. Reynolds High School) and Jenna Cobb (New Holland, Ohio/Miami Trace High School/Butler) chipped in 15 and 13 points, respectively.
Knight produced an all-around performance for the Green and Blue as she dished out four assists with zero turnovers and recorded a season-high four blocks.
The 49ers opened play with three-quick buckets to take a 7-0 lead before Knight cut the streak with a 3-point shot. The Eagles added points from Kaneisha Atwater (Fort Pierce, Fla./Fort Pierce Westover High School/VCU) and Hansen to claim the lead at 8-7 but saw as the visiting team challenged them over the next several minutes.
The teams traded baskets to tie the score on three occasions before Charlotte took a 17-15 lead midway through the half. Another shot from beyond-the-arc from Haas gave the Eagles an 18-17 lead, which they never gave up.
Charlotte continued to test the Eagles, but with a consistent shooting percentage of .444, the Green and Blue maintained a slight advantage.
A long 3-point shot by Hansen put the home team ahead 30-22 with five minutes remaining in the half but the lead was never enough to stifle the Charlotte attack. Charlotte cut the deficit to just two points with 1:30 left on the clock but a layup from Knight and two made free-throws from DyTiesha Dunson (Albany, Ga./Westover High School) led the Eagles to a 42-36 lead at the break.
The Eagles carried the momentum into the second half and held the 49ers to 1-of-6 made shots to start the half, while increasing their lead to 12 points. However, Charlotte produced a 14-8 streak midway through the half to ensure the Eagles did not run away with the lead.
With 4:40 on the clock, the 49ers cut the lead to 58-57 on a free-throw from Gabby Tyler. An assist from Knight enabled Haas to sink her second 3-point shot of the night and give FGCU a 61-57 lead but the 49ers responded with a quick layup to keep the game within two points.
After an FGCU timeout, Hansen emphatically reclaimed momentum in favor of the Eagles with a steal, a fast-break layup and a made free-throw. Hansen’s heroics gave the Eagles a 67-59 lead with under three minutes to play.
The Eagles maintained the lead with eight made free-throws on 10 attempts in the final 70 seconds and moved to 3-0 with a 78-73 win.
As a unit, the Green and Blue outshot the 49ers by a margin of 40 percent to 37.1 percent. The home team sank 29.2 percent of shots from beyond-the-arc and 65.7 percent of attempts from the free-throw line.
The Eagles pulled down 39 rebounds, while allowing the 49ers to grab 48. The visiting team scored 13 second-chance points on 15 offensive rebounds but added just four points on Eagle turnovers. FGCU recorded just seven turnovers on the night, while forcing Charlotte to turn the ball over on 14 occasions.
After just two days off, the Eagles will travel to Hattiesburg, Miss. to face Southern Mississippi on Saturday, Nov. 23. From Mississippi the Green and Blue will head south for the week to participate in The Tournament of Hope in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. FGCU will face TCU, Stanford and South Dakota State in the holiday tournament.
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.