@FGCU_WBB Edged at Southern Miss, 76-74
Sunday, November 24, 2013 | by Jamie Church (@jlchurch)
Photo Credit: Linwood Ferguson
Photo Credit: Linwood Ferguson
Southern Miss (4-1)
11/23/2013 | Hattiesburg, Miss. (Reed Green Coliseum) | Attendance: 1109
Southern Miss314576
Stats at a GlanceFGCUUSM
FG Percentage.451 (23-51) .467 (28-60)
3P FG Percentage.320 (8-25) .286 (4-14)
FT Percentage.606 (20-33) .571 (16-28)
Offensive Rebounds1013
Defensive Rebounds2528
Total Rebounds3541
Bench Points1134
Statistical LeadersFGCUUSM
PointsHANSEN - 24
ReboundsTEAM - 9
AssistsCOBB - 4
StealsHANSEN - 3
BlocksKNIGHT - 2

HATTIESBURG, Miss. – In a back-and-forth battle at the Reed Green Coliseum, the FGCU women’s basketball team fell to the University of Southern Mississippi, 76-74.  The Eagles suffer their first loss of the season at the hands of the Golden Eagles and move to 3-1 on the year, while USM improves to 4-1.

After trailing by seven points early in the contest, FGCU gained composure and took control of the game.  The Eagles held a 42-31 lead at halftime and amplified the advantage to 17 points but saw as the home team increased the defensive pressure and held FGCU to zero field goals over a span of eight minutes.  USM fought through the end of the match and reclaimed the lead in the final minute to take the win.

“We did a good job for a good portion of the game, but we didn’t finish the game,” said head coach Karl Smesko of the disappointing loss.  “We didn’t handle their pressure very well, we got in foul trouble and we didn’t make plays down the stretch when we needed to.”

Overall, the Eagles were edged in shooting percentage, 46.7 percent to 45.1 percent, but held the advantage from 3-point range, 32 percent to 28.6 percent.  The home team also held the advantage on the glass, 41-35.

Senior Sarah Hansen (McKean, Pa./General McLane High School) led the Eagles with a season-high 24 points on the night, while sophomore Stephanie Haas (Lake Avon, Ohio/Magnificat High School) recorded a career-high 20 points on 8-for-10 shooting.  Junior Jenna Cobb (New Holland, Ohio/Miami Trace High School/Butler) also contributed double-figure points for FGCU with 10 points.

Hansen and Haas both pulled down a team-high six rebounds.

A 3-point shot from Hansen opened the game for the Eagles before the home team created a 10-point run to take a seven-point lead four minutes into the game.

The teams battled through the half and traded the lead four times through the next 10 minutes.  With six minutes remaining in the first half, Hansen shifted the momentum in FGCU’s favor with a drive to the basket that brought the score to 26-25.

Two free-throws by Cobb and a 3-point shot from Haas helped the Green and Blue take control of the game before an 11-point run by the Eagles gave them a 15-point lead at 42-27.

Southern Miss. added four points in the final 37 seconds to bring the score of 42-31 at the break.

The Eagles made a season-high seven 3-pointers in the first half and held a shooting percentage of 36.8 from beyond-the-arc.

The teams opened the second half with an exchange of baskets before strong defense from the Eagles held the home team to just two made free-throws for a span of four minutes.

With 12:55 on the clock, the Eagles used five-straight points from Hansen to take their largest lead of the game at 56-39.

While facing the large deficit, Southern Miss. created a continuous stream of pressure that forced nine Eagle turnovers and held FGCU to zero field goals for a span of over eight minutes.  During that time, the home team outscored FGCU, 22-11, with all 11 points coming from the free-throw line.

FGCU saw as USM chipped away at the lead until the Eagle’s advantage was cut to just 64-61.  With 3:25 on the clock, Haas drove to the hoop for a basket to finally cut the scoring drought and increase the lead to five points.

The home team responded with a 3-point shot to cut the deficit to two points but Haas answered for the Eagles again with another layup with 2:27 on the clock.

The teams traded baskets before Southern Miss reclaimed the lead at 74-72 with 49 seconds remaining.  After an FGCU timeout, Hansen tied the game at 74 on a layup.  On their final possession, the home team eluded the FGCU pressure and sank a layup with five seconds to play to seal the win, 76-74.

The loss in Hattiesburg saw several strong individual performances for the Green and Blue.  Haas recorded a career-high scoring total for the second-consecutive game, while sophomore Bethany Murrell (New Palestine, Ind./New Palestine High School) added a career-high eight points.  Haas also set a career-high with six rebounds.

With three steals in the first half, Hansen set another all-time program record with a career total 200 steals. 

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 which begins Tuesday, Nov. 26.

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.