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Eagles Maul Mercer, 76-45
FORT MYERS, Fla. – Four players scored in double figures and FGCU knocked down 10 three-pointers en route to picking up the program’s eighth 20-plus win season as they defeated Mercer, 76-45, in Atlantic Sun action at the University Center.
With the win, the Blue and Green move to 20-1 overall (13-1 A-Sun), while the Bears fall to 2-22 overall (2-13 A-Sun). The win also extends FGCU’s current winning streak to seven games and gives the Eagles an all-time record of 53-6 in games played in the month of February.
The Blue and Green, who lead the nation in three-point field goals per game (11.0), knocked down 10 trey balls on the night. FGCU’s defense forced Mercer into 23 turnovers and went on to score 23 points off of the Bears miscues.
Redshirt-freshman Sarah Hansen (Edinboro, Pa./General McLane HS) finished with a game-high 20 points on 10-of-15 shooting from the field. Hansen also added five assists, four boards and three steals in 28 minutes. Junior Kelsey Jacobson (Barnesville, Minn./Moorhead HS) chipped in with 19 points and drained in 5-of-10 shots from behind the arc. Junior Nicoya Jackson (Houston, Texas/Cypress Springs HS/Southwestern Christian) finished with 10 points, eight rebounds, three assists, two blocks and a pair of steals, while senior Shannon Murphy (Brighton, Mich./Brighton HS) registered 10 points and five assists.
Briana Williams, one of two Bears to score in double figures, finished with a team-high 12 points.
The Eagles opened the game with a 19-6 run, highlighted by 11 points from Jacobson on 4-of-5 shooting from the field and 3-of-4 from behind the arc. After the Eagles forced Mercer into 10 turnovers in their first 11 possessions, a jumper from Alex Phillips with 11:04 left in the half stopped the FGCU run and cut the Blue and Green’s lead to 19-8.
The Bears responded to FGCU’s quick start with an 11-2 run to pull within four points of the Eagles (21-17) with just over seven minutes remaining in the opening period.
Back-to-back triples from junior Sarah Whitfield (Eugene, Ore./South Eugene HS/Lane CC) stopped the MU run and the Blue and Green went on to close out the opening stanza on a 15-8 run to take a 36-25 lead into the locker room at the break.
Mercer shot 10-of-24 (41.7 percent) from the field and 3-of-7 (42.9 percent) from distance in the opening half. The Eagles have outscored their 14 conference opponents 514-358 in the first 20 minutes in 2010-11.
FGCU shot 15-of-27 (55.6 percent) from the floor in the first half, including hitting 54.5 percent (6-of-11) of their attempts from behind the three-point line.
The Blue and Green opened the second half with a 10-5 run, capped by a layup from junior Courtney Chihil (Tipp City, Ohio/Alter HS), to grab a 46-30 lead with 16:10 left in regulation. After the Bears trimmed the Blue and Green’s lead to 49-36 with more than 12 minutes left in the game, the Eagles used a huge 27-9 run to close out the game and pick up the 76-45 A-Sun win.
The Blue and Green will now head to Kennesaw, Ga. to take on the Owls of Kennesaw State (7-16, 4-11 A-Sun) in a Valentine’s Day showdown on Monday, Feb. 14 (7 p.m.).