FORT MYERS, Fla. - Four Eagles scored in double figures and junior Kelsey Jacobson (Barnesville, Minn./Moorhead HS) tied her career-high with a game-high 21 points as the FGCU women’s basketball team edged ETSU 77-70 at the MSHA Athletic Center on Saturday afternoon in front of 2,366 fans.
With the win the Blue and Green move to 12-0 overall (5-0 A-Sun), remain one of three undefeated teams in Division I and snap ETSU’s 11-game home conference winning streak. The Lady Bucs fall to 6-8 overall (3-2 A-Sun).
The Eagles, who are now 62-7 all-time and 26-5 since moving to Division I in the month of January, knocked down 12-of-24 (50 percent) three-point attempts on the afternoon, to top their nation leading 11.5 three-point field goals made per game average. The Eagles have drained double digit three-pointers 10 times on the season and now have 138 triples as a team, including 69 in the last five contests.
FGCU’s defense was solid in the second half as they held the Lady Bucs, who were without leading scorer and rebounder Destiny Mitchell, to just 27 points on 7-of-26 (26.9 percent) shooting from the field. The Eagles gave ETSU’s other top scorers Tara Davis and Natalie Pickwell problems all night as they combined to shoot 12-of-32 (37.5 percent) and commit 11 turnovers.
Jacobson finished with 21 points on 5-of-10 shooting from the behind the arc and a perfect 6-of-6 from the charity stripe to go with four assists and three rebounds. Senior Shannon Murphy (Brighton, Mich./Brighton HS) scored 20 points on 8-of-11 shooting from the floor and 4-of-5 from long distance. Redshirt-freshman Sarah Hansen (Edinboro, Pa./General McLane HS) finished with 14 points and eight boards. Junior Courtney Chihil (Tipp City, Ohio/ Alter HS) had another all-around game with 11 points, nine rebounds and six assists. Junior Eglah Griffin (Fort Myers, Fla./Dunbar HS/Seminole CC) chipped in with nine points and four boards.
Natalie Pickwell led the Bucs with 19 points to lead three players in double figures. Tara Davis pitched in with 18 points in a game-high 40 minutes.
The Eagles got on the board first as Murphy drained a wide-open three from the top of the key with 19:32 left on the clock. The Lady Bucs then used a 9-2 run to take a 9-5 lead with 17:02 remaining in the first half.
Leading 15-12 at the 14:05 mark, ETSU used a 10-2 to extend their lead to 23-14 with just over 12 minutes left in the opening stanza. The Eagles responded with a quick 10-4 run of their own, highlighted by eight points from Murphy, to cut the ETSU lead to 27-24.
After four points by the Bucs, all from the charity stripe, gave ETSU a 31-24 lead, Jacobson knocked down a three-pointer on back-to-back possessions to bring the Blue and Green within one point (31-30).
Leading FGCU 31-30 with more than four minutes left in the opening 20 minutes, the Lady Bucs outscored the Eagles 12-7 to close out the half to take a 43-37 lead into the locker room at halftime.
ETSU’s 43 first half points mark the first time an FGCU opponent has managed more than 35 points in the first 20 minutes this season. The Lady Bucs are also the first A-Sun squad that has scored more than 27 points against the Blue and Green in the opening stanza. The Eagles, who were outscored in the first half for just the third time this season, have outscored their five conference opponents 211-131 in the first 20 minutes in 2010-11.
ETSU went 15-of-33 (45.5 percent) from the field in the first half, while FGCU shot 13-of-33 (39.4 percent) from the floor in the first half, including 7-of-16 (43.8 percent) from long distance.
Pickwell hit a layup to open the second half and extend the ETSU lead to 45-37. The Eagles would catch fire and use an 11-2 run to take a 48-47 lead with 14:43 left in the second half. The run, highlighted by four points from Chihil, gave the Blue and Green their first lead since the first half when they led 3-0.
Following a split at the free throw line by Latisha Belcher that tied the game at 48-48, the Eagles outscored the Lady Bucs 13-12 over the next nine minutes to hold a 61-60 lead with 5:21 remaining in the game. Back-to-back trey balls from Murphy and Jacobson pushed the FGCU lead to 67-60 just before the four-minute media timeout.
After the timeout, the Bucs used a 7-2 run to climb within two points, 69-67, with just 1:21 remaining in regulation. The ETSU run would not shake the Blue and Green as they would go on to outscore the Lady Bucs 8-3 to close out the game and win by the final score of 77-70.
The Eagles look to continue their winning ways as they wrap up their two-game A-Sun road trip on Monday, Jan. 10 at USC Upstate. Tipoff at the Hodge Center is scheduled for 5 p.m.