FGCUAthletics.com
Top-Seeded @FGCU_WBB Set for Semifinal Matchup with No. 5 Mercer
Friday, March 14, 2014 | by Jamie Church (@jlchurch)
Mercer (17-14)
at
FLORIDA GULF COAST (25-7)
3/15/2014 | Alico Arena - Fort Myers, Fla. | Attendance: 1684
1st2ndFinal
Mercer202747
FLORIDA GULF COAST402464
Stats at a GlanceMERFGCU
FG Percentage.352 (19-54) .387 (24-62)
3P FG Percentage.000 (0-3) .323 (10-31)
FT Percentage.750 (9-12) .750 (6-8)
Offensive Rebounds1110
Defensive Rebounds3025
Total Rebounds4135
Turnovers159
Steals29
Bench Points2014
Statistical LeadersMERFGCU
PointsWILLIAMS - 12
COBB - 22
ReboundsROBINSON - 12
ATWATER - 7
KNIGHT - 7
MEADOR - 7
HANSEN - 7
AssistsBOYKIN - 3
DUNSON - 4
StealsBRIDGES - 1
GRANT - 1
ATWATER - 3
BlocksROBINSON - 2
GLUESING - 1

no. 1 FGCU (24-7) v. no. 5 Mercer University (17-13)
Karl Smesko (373-93 | 312-63 in 12 seasons at FGCU) v. Susie Gardner (221-222 | 45-75 in four seasons at Mercer)
Saturday, March 14 | 1 p.m. | Alico Arena | Fort Myers, Fla.
Video: ESPN3
Live Stats: via StatBroadcast
Audio: via StretchInternet
Twitter: @FGCU_WBB
Game Notes: FGCU | Mercer |  Atlantic Sun

FORT MYERS, Fla. – While looking to advance to the team’s third Atlantic Sun Championship Final in three years, the FGCU women’s basketball team will take on no. 3 Mercer University on Saturday afternoon at Alico Arena.  Tipoff on the Eagles’ home court is slated for 1 p.m.

HOW TO FOLLOW

The game can be viewed live on ESPN3 free of charge with Paul Crane and Dee Romine on the air.  Fans looking for a familiar voice can listen to audio live via FGCUAthletics.com where David Moulton and J. Webb Horton will call the game.  In-game updates will be available on twitter (@FGCU_WBB) and through live stats available via StatBroadcast at FGCUAthletics.com.

THE GREEN & BLUE

After earning a win over Northern Kentucky in the final home game of the regular season, the Eagles traveled to Stetson where they secured the regular-season championship with a 74-73 overtime win over their in-state rival.  The team wrapped up the regular season with a record of 23-7 and a conference mark of 17-1 and defeated Lipscomb 92-53 in the quarterfinal of the Atlantic Sun Championship on Tuesday.

The Eagles have scored 70.5 points per game this season, while holding opponents at 59.5 points scored per contest for an A-Sun best points allowed.  In conference play, FGCU outscored the opposition by a margin of 18.6 points in 18 games and held foes to an average of 53.8 points per game. 

Eagle opponents have held a rebounding advantage through 31 games this season with a 39.2 to 35.3 average but FGCU has maintained control of the ball with just 13.3 turnovers, while forcing 17.9 miscues per game.  The team maintains a turnover margin of +4.5 to rank among the top seven percent of Division I teams.

Offensively, FGCU has recorded a shooting percentage of 41.4 this season with a clip of 35.1 percent from the perimeter.  The team has made a combined 319 shots from long range, with an average of 10.3 per game to rank second among the nation’s 349 teams. 

TOP CONTRIBUTORS

The Eagles boast three double-digit producers in senior Sarah Hansen (McKean, Pa./General McLane High School) and sophomores Whitney Knight (Winston-Salem, N.C./R.J. Reynolds High School) and Stephanie Haas (Avon Lake, Ohio/Magnificat High School).  All three players rank among the top-20 scorers in the conference, while five others contribute at least three points per game for an all-around effort in each game.

Hansen sits atop of the team rankings with an average of 14.1 points per game.  The senior captain also leads the squad with 7.1 rebounds per game and ranks fourth in the league with a team-high 60 steals on the season.  Hansen has averaged over 15 points per game in the last month and has increased her career total to 1,875 points.

Knight adds 12.5 points per game and leads the team with 88 blocks on the year for a new single-season FGCU record.  Knight ranks among the top-20 nationally with 2.79 blocks per game and leads the Eagles and the conference with 78 made shots from the perimeter.   

Haas has continued to add to the Eagles’ offense this year and is currently averaging 11.9 points per contest, while transfers Kaneisha Atwater (Fort Pierce, Fla./Fort Pierce Westover High School) and Jenna Cobb (New Holland, Ohio/Miami Trace High School) round out the Eagles’ top point producers with 7.7 and 7.6 points per game, respectively.  Cobb has added 76 assists on the year and has been a tremendous force on defense for the Eagles with 54 steals.

Sophomore DyTiesha Dunson (Albany, Ga./Westover High School) entered the Eagles’ starting lineup in January and has added 7.8 points per game.  Dunson has also contributed 96 assists on the season with 86 of those in conference action and currently ranks 18th in the nation with an assist to turnover ratio of 2.71. 

LAST TIME OUT

The top-seeded FGCU women’s basketball team defeated no. 8 Lipscomb University 92-53 Tuesday night at Alico Arena to advance to the conference semifinals for the third time in three years.

The 39-point victory sets a new mark as the largest margin of victory in an Atlantic Sun Championship game.  The Green and Blue move to 24-7 on the season, while the Bisons’ season ends at 6-24.

The Eagles held Lipscomb to just 10 points in the first half, the fewest any Division I opponent has scored against the Eagles.  With a season-high 10 blocks and eight steals, the FGCU defense held Lipscomb to 8.8 percent from the field in the first half and 28 percent overall.  Led by a well-rounded performance that included five double-figure scorers, the Eagles extended the lead to a game-high 47 points in the second half and ultimately earned a 39-point win.

Individually, Hansen paced the Eagles with 18 points, while Haas and Moore each added 17 points for FGCU.  The point total sets a new career high for Moore, who sank 5-of-7 shots from the perimeter. Knight and Atwater produced 11 and 10 points, respectively for FGCU with Knight adding four blocks on the night.

Collectively, the Eagles converted 53.2 percent of shots from the field with a 54.8 success rate from 3-point range.  FGCU made 14 shots from beyond-the-arc to set a new A-Sun Tournament record, while pulling down 46 rebounds.  The Bisons shot 28 percent overall and 22.2 percent from distance.  Lipscomb grabbed 40 rebounds and turned the ball over 16 times.

ALL-TIME MEETINGS

Saturday will mark the 15th meeting between the Eagles and the Bears, dating back to the 2007-08 season.  The Eagles hold a perfect 14-0 record in the all-time series, including two wins this season.  The Eagles’ largest win over the Bears was a 98-50 win in 2012.  In seven seasons, FGCU has outscored Mercer 81.3 to 57.4 points and have scored over 80 points on eight occasions.

LAST TIME AGAINST THE BEARS

With the team’s strongest offensive performance of the season, the team earned a 99-57 win over Mercer Feb. 13 at Alico Arena. 

FGCU allowed Mercer to take a two-point lead to open the game but quickly constructed an 18-4 run to claim a double-figure lead midway through the first half.  After holding a 45-24 advantage at the break, the Eagles sank 8-of-10 field goals to start second stanza and extend their lead to 34 points.  The team shot 62 percent and outrebounded Mercer 21-11 in the second half to maintain the advantage.  The strong offensive surge helped the Eagles increase their lead to a season-high 48 points and ultimately pushed the Green and Blue to the 42-point victory.

Dunson led all players with a career-high 23, while three others contributed double-figure points.  Hansen joined Knight and Haas to score 18 points each for the Eagles.  Hansen led the Eagles on the boards with 10 rebounds for her third double-double of the season, while Knight pulled down eight rebounds and swatted three shots.

As a team, the Eagles successfully converted 52 percent of shots, including 52 percent of 3-point attempts and 67 percent of shots from the free-throw line.  FGCU outrebounded Mercer 43-31 and scored a season-high 18 second-chance points.

Defensively, the team scored 22 points on 17 forced Mercer turnovers.  The Eagles never allowed Mercer to score more than four-consecutive points and held the Bears to less than one point per possession, while recording a season-high 1.37 points per possession themselves.

SCOUTING NO. 5

- The Bears of Mercer are 17-13 this season and finished the Atlantic Sun slate with a mark of 9-9 to capture the fifth seed.  The Bears defeated Jacksonville 59-36 in Jacksonville on Tuesday to advance to the semifinals.

- As a team, the Bears average 64.6 points per game this season, while allowing opponents to 64.4 points per contest.  The Bears have successfully converted 40.7 percent of shots from the field and 26.7 percent of shots from long range.  Bear foes are shooting 38.5 percent this season with a 34.0 percent clip from beyond-the-arc.  The Bears average just 11.8 turnovers per game, while dishing out 14.1 assists and grabbing 5.3 steals.

- The Bears boast a versatile lineup with six players to watch this season.  Offensively, the team is led by three Preseason All-Atlantic Sun Team members in junior guards Precious Bridges and Brianna Williams and senior guard Kendra Grant.  Bridges has averaged a team-high 15.2 points per games this season and has grabbed 38 steals but did not see the court against FGCU in the teams’ first meeting.  Williams adds 12.9 points per game and currently leads the conference in career 20+ point games. Sharnea Boykin has facilitated the offense this season with 186  assists and ranks 11th in the nation in assists per game.  Defensively, Teanna Robinson currently ranks sixth in the nation with 3.62 blocks per game and pulls down 10 rebounds per game.

- Collectively, the Bears rank first in the conference with an assist to turnover ratio of 1.19 and blocked shots at 5.1 per game.  The team also produces the fewest number of turnovers per game in the conference (11.9) and holds foes to just 65.3 points per game for the second least in the A-Sun.

- After missing the majority of the conference season after getting her appendix taken out midseason, Bridges was not named to the All-Conference team.  However, Kendra Grant earned a spot on the All-Conference Second Team and Teanna Robinson was named Defensive Player of the Year.

- The Bears earned the no. 3 seed in last season’s Atlantic Sun Conference tournament after finishing the season with a record of 20-12 overall and 13-5 in conference.  This season, the Bears were selected to finish third in the conference preseason poll, behind just FGCU and Stetson but finished fifth in the seeding and sixth in the standings.

ALL-CONFERENCE AWARDS

On the tails of the team’s fourth-straight Atlantic Sun Regular Season Championship, the team earned two of the league’s five major awards, as announced by the conference Monday afternoon.  Head coach Karl Smesko earned his fifth Atlantic Sun Coach of the Year award, while Hansen was named Atlantic Sun Player of the Year for the second-straight year and earned a position on the All-Conference First Team for the third-consecutive year.  Hansen was the team’s only unanimous selection and sits as only the 10th conference player to ever earn first-team honors for three years.  Knight also picked up a First Team All-Conference nod in her first season back from injury.

SINCE THE LOSS

After compiling a 44-game win streak in regular season Atlantic Sun action that spanned 1,067 days, the Eagles were defeated at Northern Kentucky a month ago.  However, since the loss, the Eagles have produced 10 wins by an average margin of 25 points including a 108-67 victory over Lipscomb for the Eagles’ highest point total in an Atlantic Sun game.  The team has shot 45 percent from the field with a 38 percent clip from 3-point range and has averaged 79.1 points per game since falling in Highland Heights.  The team has also forced 18.1 opponent turnovers, while recording just 10.9 miscues per game and has grabbed 10.8 steals.  FGCU has outrebounded foes in five of those games and has seen Hansen, Haas, Dunson, Cobb and Knight all produce an average of over nine points per game.  Last week, the Eagles defeated NKU 67-53 to avenge the only blemish on an otherwise perfect conference season. 

THE STREAK

The Green and Blue currently hold a 56-game home win streak against Atlantic Sun foes.  The team has won 56 consecutive Atlantic Sun games at Alico Arena since January of 2009 and currently holds an all-time home record of 65-1 in conference play at home since the 2007-08 season. The impressive win-loss record amounts to a win percentage of .985 in home games against A-Sun foes.

TOURNAMENT HISTORY

The Eagles currently hold the conference’s best win percentage in Atlantic Sun tournament play with a mark of .857.  FGCU is 6-1 in two years of postseason eligibility with three wins for the championship in 2012 and two wins and a loss in the championship game last season.

SMESKO’S WARDROBE

The Eagles have scored an average of 86 points per game when Smesko wears a tie.  That includes six wins in six games.

RAINING THREES

Backed by a 3-point shooting mark of 35.1 percent, the Eagles have made an average of 10.3 long-range shots per game this season.  The tally ranks the Eagles second among the nation’s 349 teams, behind only Sacramento State, who has tallied 12.4 3-pointers a game this season.  Sacramento State set a new NCAA record for 3-point average and 3-pointers in a single season, previously set by the Eagles in 2012. 

Of the Eagles’ 2,186 points scored this season, 43.7 percent have been scored from distance.

The Green and Blue have a strong history in 3-point shooting, as the Eagles have made 3,342 shots from beyond-the-arc in just 12 years.  The team has also made a 3-pointer in 373 of the team’s 374 games and is currently riding a 261 game streak with at least one shot made from the perimeter.

The Eagles currently hold three NCAA records for 3-point shooting including single game (22 made at ETSU last season), single season (342 made in 2012) and average shots made per game (10.7 in 2012).

SMESKO’S PREPERATION

Smesko’s game preparation is one of the most crucial factors in the Eagles’ all-time success.  This season, the team is 14-2 in games when they have had four or more days to prepare.  In 12 seasons, Smesko holds a record of 108-20 in games with that much time for preparing for a win percentage of 84 percent.  For Tuesday’s game, Smesko had just two days to prepare.

BENCH PRODUCTION

The Eagle reserves have averaged just 16.5 points per game this season.  However, since the beginning of February, the team has increased the bench production to 30 points per game including a season-high 40 points off the bench in the win over Lipscomb.

HANSEN’S HEORICS

In her final year as an Eagle, Hansen is ensuring her mark will be left at FGCU.  The senior currently holds 11 all-time program records including the top marks in points, rebounds, steals and games started.  She most recently set the mark for most minutes played by an FGCU player and has currently seen 3,764 minutes on the court for FGCU.  In 129 games, Hansen has averaged 29.4 minutes per game.

Among Atlantic Sun competitors, Hansen now ranks eighth in career points with 1,875 and sits just 17 points from taking over the seventh position.  Hansen also ranks among the top 20 producers in rebounds for the Atlantic Sun.  With 863 boards, Hansen needs just 15 rebounds to take over the 17th position.  Hansen was recently became the fourth student-athlete to evern be named as an inductee into the FGCU Hall of Fame.

PRESEASON PROSPECTUS

On the heels of two perfect Atlantic Sun seasons, the FGCU women’s basketball team was predicted to continue its success as the preseason favorite in both the Atlantic Sun Conference Preseason Coaches’ Poll and the A-Sun Media poll.

It was the fifth-consecutive year that the Eagles’ earned the league’s top vote after winning the A-Sun regular season in four of the last five seasons. 

THE HISTORY

Despite just a 12-year presence, the FGCU women’s basketball team boasts a rich history.  Led by 12th-year Head Coach Karl Smesko, the Eagles have produced a program record of 312-63 for a remarkable win percentage of 83 percent.  Smesko has produced ten 20-win seasons since the program’s inception with two seasons that eclipsed the 30-win mark.

After playing for the NCAA Division II National Championship in 2007, the team joined the Division I ranks for the 2007-08 season.  In their first year of Division I play, the Eagles won 29 games for the fourth most in NCAA history, while producing the third-highest winning percentage of a first-year team at 90.6.  After a four-year transition period, the Eagles made the NCAA Tournament in their first year of postseason eligibility.  Since making the transition to DI, the Eagles have compiled a record of 180-42 and have finished atop the Atlantic Sun standings four times in five years.  In the last three seasons, the Eagles have lost just one Atlantic Sun game.

FOR MORE INFO

For all the details on the weekend’s play check out: http://issuu.com/fgcuathletics/docs/asun_semis-finals.

UP NEXT

As the no. 1 seed, the Eagles will maintain home-court advantage through the A-Sun Conference Championship.  No. 2 Stetson will take on no. 3 USC Upstate in the other semifinal game at 3:30 p.m. on Saturday at Alico Arena.  The winners will face off in the Atlantic Sun Championship Final Sunday afternoon at 3 p.m.  The game will be streamed online via ESPN3 and can be watched live on television on CSS.

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.