FLORIDA GULF COAST
(23-7, 17-1 A-Sun)
(24-6, 16-2 A-Sun)
3/8/2014 | DeLand, Fla. (Edmunds Center) | Attendance: 1449
|FLORIDA GULF COAST||30||36||8||74|
|Stats at a Glance||FGCU||STET|
|3P FG Percentage||.333
DeLAND, Fla. – After 17 lead changes and 10 tie scores, the FGCU women’s basketball 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 improve to 23-7 on the season with a 17-1 mark in conference action, while the Hatters fall to 24-6 overall and 16-2 in A-Sun play. The Eagles secure home-court advantage through the Atlantic Sun Championship with a no. 1 seed.
“This is a very good Stetson team,” said head coach Karl Smesko of the rivalry. “This is the best Stetson team we’ve seen and the game was challenging, especially because they shot the ball so well from 3-point range and they had so many different players scoring. They are a tough matchup for everyone, we had some defensive breakdowns and they made us pay but we got enough stops and were able to compete on the boards. It was a struggle for us all game but it seemed like someone would always hit a big shot for us every time they went on a run so it never got away from us. Right now we feel really fortunate that we were able to earn the win.”
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 (Avon Lake, Ohio/Magnificat High School) 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. Whitney Knight (Winston-Salem, N.C./R.J. Reynolds High School) produced 14 points, 10 rebounds and four blocks for FGCU, while senior Sarah Hansen (McKean, Pa./General McLane High School) scored 15.
The home team started strong and produced a seven-point run to take the lead in the opening minutes of the game. Jenna Cobb (New Holland, Ohio/Miami Trace High School/Butler) cut the Eagle drought with a 3-pointer and cut the deficit to three points with a free throw on the Eagles’ next possession. FGCU added to Cobb’s production for a 9-2 run to tie the game at nine eight minutes in. The teams traded baskets through the midpoint of the half before a long-range shot from Knight gave the Eagles their first lead of the game at 15-14 with 9:36 to play in the first half.
After trading baskets again, the Eagles found themselves down three points with 7:30 on the clock. Hansen cut the Stetson streak with a layup before Knight and DyTiesha Dunson (Albany, Ga./Westover High School) followed for a 9-0 run in favor of the Eagles. Dunson’s layup brought the score to 24-18 with five minutes to play but Stetson was quick to respond with two 3-pointers to tie the game again.
The Hatters added a third-straight 3-pointer to reclaim the lead but Haas tied the game at 27 with three minutes left to play. The teams traded baskets again as time wound down before Stetson added three points in the final minute to take the lead at halftime, 33-30.
Stetson maintained control of the score in the opening five minutes of the second half before Haas produced back-to-back 3-pointers to give the Eagles a 45-44 lead with just under 14 minutes to play. Hansen and Dunson added five more points for the Green and Blue to give FGCU a 50-44 lead but after a flurry of 3-point shots, the score was tied again at 53 midway through the second half.
The teams traded the lead seven times through the next five minutes and again found the score tied at 61 with five minutes to play. A 3-pointer from Cobb at the two-minute mark put the Eagles back up two points but the Hatters converted two free throws to knot the score at 66.
Both teams attempted a shot from the perimeter in the final 12 seconds but neither was successful, sending the game into overtime with a 66-66 tie score.
The teams were scoreless for the first minute of overtime action before Knight put the Eagles ahead on a 3-pointer. The Eagles maintained a brief lead with help from a Hansen layup but the Hatters tied the game at 71 with 1:35 remaining on four-consecutive free throws. A free throw from Cobb brought the score to 72-71 in favor of FGCU with 37 seconds on the clock before Stetson reclaimed the lead on a layup 20 seconds later.
With one possession remaining Smesko called timeout to set up the Eagles’ final chance. The team ran out of time to run the full play and Hansen’s layup attempt with two seconds remaining was unsuccessful. However, Haas brought down the offensive layup and was immediately fouled in a one-and-one situation. With 0.2 seconds left on the clock, Haas sank both free throws to put the Eagles up 74-73 as time expired.
The win ensures home-court advantage through the Atlantic Sun Championship, which takes place this week at Alico Arena. As the no. 1 seed, the Eagles will host no. 8 Lipscomb on Tuesday, March 11 at 7 p.m. The semifinal and final rounds will be played at the top remaining seed, meaning FGCU will play all conference tournament games in front of the home crowd.
Tickets for all three games 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.
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