@FGCU_WBB Downs Stetson 72-56 in Comeback Victory
Saturday, January 04, 2014 | by Jamie Church (@jlchurch)
Whitney Knight led the Eagles with 20 points and five blocks in the win
Whitney Knight led the Eagles with 20 points and five blocks in the win
STETSON (8-5 (0-1 A-Sun))
FLORIDA GULF COAST (7-6 (1-0 A-Sun))
1/4/2014 | Alico Arena - Fort Myers, Fla. | Attendance: 1786
Stats at a GlanceSTETFGCU
FG Percentage.356 (21-59) .368 (21-57)
3P FG Percentage.133 (2-15) .289 (11-38)
FT Percentage.800 (12-15) .864 (19-22)
Offensive Rebounds1513
Defensive Rebounds2624
Total Rebounds4137
Bench Points1817
Statistical LeadersSTETFGCU
PointsSIMS - 11
ReboundsBURRIS - 10
AssistsSHARP - 5
StealsSHARP - 3
BlocksKNIGHT - 5

FORT MYERS, Fla. – After trailing by as many as 10 points in the first half, the FGCU women’s basketball team outscored Stetson University 44-21 in the second half to defeat the Hatters 72-56 Saturday night at Alico Arena.  With the win, the Eagles improve to 7-6 on the season and begin Atlantic Sun play with a record of 1-0.  The Hatters start A-Sun play with a mark of 0-1 for the first time since 2010 and fall to 8-5 on the year. 

Stetson took control of the game with a quick 4-0 lead to begin the contest and extended its advantage to 10 points just eight minutes into the first half.  The Hatters maintained the momentum through the half and went into the break with a 35-28 lead.  After seeing Stetson extend the lead to nine points to start the second half, the Eagles constructed a 14-0 run to claim the lead.  The Green and Blue held onto the lead and extended it to a game-high 17 points en route to its first A-Sun victory of the year.

The win in the conference opener marked the sixth-consecutive year the Eagles open the season with a 1-0 record.  FGCU now holds a record of 55-1 in all-time Atlantic Sun games at Alico Arena. 

“This is a great way for us to start the conference season,” said head coach Karl Smesko.  “We know Stetson is one of the top contenders in the league.  They definitely outplayed us in the first half, but I was glad to see we were able to make a run early in the half and keep up the pace and intensity throughout the second half.”

Individually, the Eagles saw seven season highs on the night.  Sophomore Whitney Knight (Winston-Salem, N.C./R.J. Reynolds High School) led all scorers with 20 points, while senior Sarah Hansen (McKean, Pa./General McLane High School) added 18 points and a season-high 14 rebounds for her second double-double of the year.  Sophomore Kaneisha Atwater (Fort Pierce, Fla./Fort Pierce Westwood High School/VCU) produced a season-high 15 points and pulled down a career-best nine rebounds, while also recording a season-high four steals.  DyTiesha Dunson (Albany, Ga./Westover High School) came off the bench for two season-highs with eight points and five assists.

Collectively, the Eagles narrowly outshot the Hatters, 36.8 percent to 35.6 percent but were edged on the glass, 41-36.  FGCU made 11 3-point attempts, while holding Stetson to just two and maintained a season-high shooting percentage from the free-throw line at 86.4 percent.  The Eagles’ edge was aided in part by 24 points on 21 Stetson turnovers and a season-best 18 second-chance points.

Two quick layups put the Hatters ahead 4-0 in the first minute of action before Knight cut the lead with a 3-pointer.  A steal and a fast-break layup from Atwater gave the Eagles their first lead of the game but it was short lived.

The Hatters produced a nine-point run and held the Eagles scoreless for a period to six minutes to take a 15-5 lead near the 12-minute mark.   The Green and Blue responded with a 9-2 run to cut the deficit to just three points with eight minutes remaining in the half but could not reclaim the lead. 

Stetson again increased its advantage to double-digits in the final minutes of the half, before allowing an Atwater 3-pointer and a Dunson jumper in the final seconds to bring the score to 35-28 at the break.

The Eagles shot 35.5 percent in the first 20 minutes of action but allowed the visiting team to convert 51.9 percent of shots.  The Hatters also used a 22-13 advantage on the backboard to hold control at halftime.

After seeing an early second-half Hatter layup, the Eagles combined baskets from Hansen, Knight and Jaime Gluesing (Solon, Ohio/Solon High School) to produce a 14-point run to cut the Hatter lead and take over the momentum of the game.  A successful shot by Knight from long range sealed the run to give FGCU a 42-37 lead with 14 minutes to play.

The Hatters responded with a series of buckets but saw as the Eagles used strong 3-point shooting from Knight and Atwater to hold control of the game.  The pair each produced four 3-point baskets on the night.

The Eagles extended their advantage to double-digits midway through the half and never relinquished the lead.  The Hatters got as close as eight points near the four-minute mark before the Green and Blue produced another run.  The home team sealed the victory by outscoring Stetson 14-5 in the final three minutes and ultimately earned a 72-56 win. 

The victory snapped a two-game losing streak for the Eagles, while handing the Hatters their first loss since Dec. 8.  The Eagles now hold a 12-3 advantage in the all-time series with their in-state rival and improve to 4-0 against fellow Sunshine State teams this season.

The Eagles will continue Atlantic Sun action on Thursday, Jan. 9 when they host East Tennessee State University at Alico Arena.  Tipoff against the Bucs is scheduled for 7 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 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.