MACON, Ga. - Redshirt sophomore, A-Sun All-Conference first team choice and A-Sun Scholar-Athlete of the Year Sarah Hansen (McKean, Pa./General McLane HS) scored a game-high 18 points, as the No. 28 FGCU women’s basketball team picked up a 76-53 semifinal win over Kennesaw State in the Atlantic Sun Tournament Friday afternoon at Mercer’s University Center.
With their 20th straight win, the top-seeded Eagles (28-2) move on to play second-seeded Stetson in the A-Sun Championship Game on Saturday, March 3 at noon. The Blue and Green are now 9-2 all-time against the Owls (14-17), including picking up three wins over KSU this season.
Making their first A-Sun postseason appearance in their first year of postseason eligibility, FGCU looks to become only the third team in Atlantic Sun history to win the Atlantic Sun Championship in its first appearance. Lipscomb (2004) and Miami (1991) were the only other schools to win in their first appearance.
Hansen added seven rebounds, four assists and three steals to go along with her game-high 18 points. She shot 6-of-10 from the floor and went a perfect 6-of-6 from the charity stripe.
The Eagles, who lead the nation in three-point field goals per game (10.8), knocked down 11-of-20 shots from behind the arc and now have 324 triples as a team. FGCU, who has hit double digit triples in 18 games this season, is now just 17 three-pointers away from breaking the NCAA record for three-pointers in a season (340), which is currently held by the 2009-10 Morehead St. team.
Ranked No. 3 in the CollegInsider.com Mid-Major poll and receiving votes in both national polls, the Green and Blue forced the Owls into 18 miscues, which led to 15 FGCU points off turnovers. Kennesaw State’s 53 points mark the 27th time the Eagles, who lead the conference in scoring defense (53.1 ppg), have held an opponent to 65 points or fewer this season and also the 17th occasion that FGCU has held an opponent to 55 points or fewer.
A-Sun’s Academic All-Conferencehonoree Courtney Chihil (Tipp City, Ohio/Alter HS) tallied 13 points, and five assists. Chihil shot 4-of-6 from the field, 3-of-3 from behind the arc and 2-of-2 from the charity stripe. Senior Kelsey Jacobson (Barnesville, Minn.Moorhead HS), an A-Sun All-Conference second team selection and the nation’s leader in career three-pointers (among active players), drained 4-of-7 from long distance to finish with 12 points, while senior Eglah Griffin (Fort Myers, Fla./Dunbar HS/Seminole CC) chipped in with seven points and three rebounds in 27 minutes of action.
With the score tied at 4-4, the Eagles used a 20-7 run, highlighted by five points from Griffin and four from Hansen, to take an early 24-11 lead with 8:41 left in the half. After KSU used an 8-3 run to cut the FGCU advantage to 27-19, the Green and Blue responded by outscoring the Owls 7-3 over the final five minutes of the first period to take a 34-22 lead into the locker room at the intermission. Jacobson buried two of her four first half triples in the final 4:09 of the half.
FGCU knocked down 12-of-30 (40 percent) from the field and 5-of-11 (45.5 percent) from behind the arc in the opening period, while Kennesaw State shot 37 percent (10-of-27) from the floor and were held without a three-point field goal (0-of-5).
The Eagles opened the second half with a 16-8 run, capped by a Brittany Kennedy three-pointer, to take a commanding 50-30 lead with 13:36 remaining in the game. The Eagles went on to hold off KSU, increasing their lead to as many as 28 points before picking up the 76-53 A-Sun Semifinal win.
The No. 1 seeded Eagles return to the court on Saturday, Mar. 3 to face No. 2 Stetson in the Championship Game of the 2012 Atlantic Sun Tournament. Tip at Mercer’s University Center is set for 12:00 ET and the game can be seen live on Comcast Sports South (CSS) or online at ASun.TV. The game can also be heard live on ESPN 770AM in Fort Myers or online at www.770ESPN.com with David Moulton and Mark Miller on the call.
GAME NOTES FGCU is one win shy of breaking the program Division I record for wins (28), set last season … FGCU has scored 75+ points in a game 17 times this season … the double figure win was FGCU’s 22nd … the Eagles are a combined 15-2 in road and neutral games … Hansen has scored in double figures 11 straight games and a team-best 23 times on the season … Chihil has 39 double figure games in her career and is now six points short of becoming the fifth player in FGCU history to score 1,000 points … Kennedy now has 57 steals on the season.