Florida Gulf Coast
(23-5, 16-0 A-Sun)
(19-8, 12-4 A-Sun)
2/23/2013 | DeLand, Fla. (Edmunds Center) | Attendance: 1345
|Florida Gulf Coast||35||37||72|
|Stats at a Glance||FGCU||STET|
|3P FG Percentage||.316
DELAND, Fla. – Redshirt junior Sarah Hansen (McKean, Pa./General McLane HS) scored a game-high 27 points as the FGCU women’s basketball team defeated conference rival Stetson, 72-55, on Saturday afternoon. The win gives the Eagles the outright A-Sun Regular Season title, their third straight and fourth in the last five years, as well as the No. 1 seed in the Atlantic Sun Tournament (Mar. 6-9).
“I’m very proud of this team for coming into a hostile environment and winning a game that gave us a regular season title and also the No. 1 seed in the conference tournament,” said head coach Karl Smesko. “Hopefully we can continue to play well during our final two regular season games and carry our success over into the A-Sun Tournament in a couple weeks.”
With their 17th straight victory, the Green and Blue improve to 23-5 overall and 16-0 in the A-Sun, while the Hatters fall to 19-8 overall (12-4 A-Sun). The win also snaps SU’s 16-game home winning streak, which was the fifth longest home winning streak in the nation.
The Eagles, who are 11-2 all-time against the Hatters, have now won 37 straight A-Sun games overall (including the conference tournament) and 34 consecutive regular season conference contests. FGCU’s 34 consecutive conference victories rank as the second longest streak in the country behind defending national champion Baylor.
The Eagles, who have made at least one three-pointer in 225 consecutive contests and 337 of 338 games in program history, made six triples on the day, led by three from Hansen.
Ranked No. 6 in the ESPN Mid-Major rankings, the Green and Blue scored 40 points in the paint and recorded a season-high eight blocks. Stetson’s 55 points mark the 23rd time (16th consecutive) the Eagles, who lead the conference in scoring defense (52.7 ppg), have held an opponent to 60 points or fewer this season.
Hansen shot 9-of-14 from the field, 3-of-4 from long distance and a perfect 6-of-6 from the charity stripe to record 27 points in 32 minutes of playing time. Hansen also added seven boards to go with career-highs in blocks (4) and steals (7). Redshirt senior Brittany Kennedy (Spokane, Wash./Lewis and Clark HS/Oregon State) finished with 15 points and five rebounds. Senior Joyce Iamstrong (Chicago, Ill./Thornton Fractional South HS/Jefferson College) finished with nine points, four rebounds and three assists. Redshirt senior Betsy Adams (Monticello, Ind./Twin Lakes HS/Valpo), who recently scored her 1,000th career-point, added nine points and season-highs in boards (7) and assists (3), while freshman DyTiesha Dunson (Albany, Ga./Westover HS) chipped in with six points and two assists in 20 minutes.
FGCU opened the game with a 12-3 run, capped by a triple from Hansen, over the first 4:44 of the opening period. Stetson responded with a 20-6 spurt over the next eight minutes to take a 23-18 lead with 7:17 left on the clock.
The Eagles would not be rattled and employed a quick 9-0 run, highlighted by a trey and a pair of free throws from Hansen, to retake the lead (27-23; 4:34). After a three-pointer from Jama Sharp tied the game at 28-28 (2:41), the Green and Blue outscored the Hatters 7-2 over the final two minutes to take a 35-30 lead into the locker room at the intermission. Iamstrong rebounded Kennedy’s missed free throw with 1.4 seconds left and scored just before the buzzer sounded.
Hansen led the Eagles with 15 points and four rebounds in the first half, while Kennedy added 10 points. FGCU shot 46.4 percent (13-for-28) from the floor, while limiting the Hatters to 11-of-28 (39.3 percent) from the field. The Eagles knocked down three shots from behind the arc in the first half, while forcing Stetson into just five miscues in the opening 20 minutes.
The teams traded buckets to open the second period. Janelle Mills grabbed an offensive rebound and scored a layup to cut the FGCU lead down to five points (43-38) with 14:23 left in regulation. The Eagles then used a 17-4 run, highlighted by back-to-back old three-point plays from Hansen, to grab a 60-42 advantage (9:10).
FGCU would play Stetson even the rest of the way and went on to pick up the 72-55 conference victory.
The Hatters finished the night with a 35.7 percent shooting percentage (20-of-56). Sasha Sims led SU with 20 points, while Stetson’s leading scorers Victoria McGowan and Shanasa Sanders were held to a combined 6-of-21 shooting.
The Eagles shot the ball well all afternoon and finished the contest with a 47.3 shooting percentage. The Green and Blue, who came into the game ranked second in the nation in three-point field goals made per game (9.3), hit six triples on 19 attempts (31.6 percent), forced Stetson into 14 turnovers, won the rebounding battle (37-34) and tallied 11 assists on 26 made baskets.
FGCU will now return home for the final two games of the A-Sun regular season. FGCU will host Mercer on Feb. 28, before welcoming Kennesaw State to ‘The Nest’ on Senior Day (Mar. 2).
The Eagles, the No. 1 seed in the 2013 A-Sun Tournament, will play their quarterfinal game on Wednesday, Mar. 6. Tip-off times are still to be determined. FGCU Athletics is now offering ticket packages for the conference tournament at Mercer University in Macon, Ga. Fans can get ticket booklets that include admission into every game of the men’s and women’s tournament (14 games) for $20 (children ages 6-11), $50 (seniors 62 and older and students ages 12-22) or $75 (adults). All tickets are general admission. Tickets can be purchased by calling the FGCU ticket office Monday-Friday, between 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. at 239-590-7145, in person at the Alico Arena ticket office or by ordering online at www.fgcuathletics.com/tickets.
Fans can follow FGCU on Twitter (@FGCU_WBB), Instagram (@FGCUWbb) and on Facebook by liking FGCU Women’s Basketball (www.Facebook.com/FGCUWbb).