FORT MYERS, Fla. – Winners of 36 consecutive Atlantic Sun regular season contests, the reigning A-Sun Sun champion FGCU women’s basketball team unveiled its 18-game conference slate on Thursday.
Coming off a campaign in which they became the first A-Sun school to go undefeated in league play in back-to-back seasons, the Green and Blue’s 18-game slate features a home-and-home with the other nine league opponents.
The A-Sun home opener at Northern Kentucky on Dec. 30th marks the sixth time in seven seasons that FGCU will open the league slate on the road. The Norse entered the A-Sun and the Division I ranks last season, as the Eagles took both games in the series. FGCU’s season-opening start will continue on New Year’s Day at Lipscomb, marking the first time in program history the Eagles have played on New Year’s Day.
FGCU’s third game in eight days to open A-Sun action will be a trip to in-state rival Stetson on Monday, Jan. 6, at the Edmunds Center. The Eagles have won last five regular season meetings, while the Hatters eliminated the No. 1 seed Eagles from postseason action in 2013 with a 70-64 victory in the A-Sun Championship game. Reigning A-Sun Player of the Year Sarah Hansen (McKean, Pa./General McLane HS) averaged 18.0 points, 8.0 rebounds and 3.5 steals in the regular season contests with Stetson, en route to finishing in the top 5 in those categories during A-Sun play.
The first two-game A-Sun homestand will welcome UNF and Jacksonville to ‘The Nest’. FGCU is undefeated at home against the Dolphins and Ospreys since moving to Division I in 2007-08. The Green and Blue will open their A-Sun home schedule with UNF on Thursday, Jan. 9, before taking on Jacksonville on Saturday, Jan. 11. FGCU, who defeated the Ospreys in the 2013 A-Sun semifinals, averaged 63.5 points per contest at Alico Arena against the squads from Jacksonville, led by 19.5 points per night from Hansen.
The next two games of the Green and Blue’s schedule are back-to-back road games at USC Upstate (Jan. 16) and ETSU (Jan. 18). The trio of Hansen, Brittany Kennedy (Spokane, Wash./Lewis and Clark HS/Oregon State) and Joyce Iamstrong (Chicago, Ill./Thornton Fractional South HS/Jefferson College) outscored Upstate 57-54 and accounted for 74 percent of the team’s scoring on the night in a 77-54 victory over the Spartans at the Hodge Center last season. FGCU made a bit of history at ETSU last year, setting the NCAA Division I record for three-pointers made in a single game with 22. The 22 three-point makes were also a program and Atlantic Sun Conference best, as the Eagles made 10 treys in the first half and 12 in the second. Then-freshman Stephanie Haas (Avon Lake, Ohio/Magnificat HS) made the shot that tied the record at the 6:44 mark of the second half and classmate Amanda Moore (Seymour, Ind./Seymour HS) drilled a three-pointer with 1:48 left in the game that gave FGCU the all-time mark.
The first half of the A-Sun slate comes to an end with home games against the A-Sun’s Georgia teams, beginning with a matchup with last season’s most improved team Mercer on Thursday, Jan. 23 and wrapping up with an A-Sun quarterfinal rematch with Kennesaw State. The final game of the first rotation will pin the Eagles against the Owls on Saturday, Jan. 25. The Eagles eliminated KSU from the A-Sun Tournament for the second straight year last March with a 74-36 win. FGCU has swept the season series with both the Bears and Owls the last two years.
After six days of rest, FGCU will start up the second half of A-Sun play by welcoming Stetson (Feb. 1) to Alico Arena, before heading north to battle Jacksonville (Feb. 6) and UNF (Feb. 8) on the road. The Eagles will play four of their last six regular season games at ‘The Nest’ with a senior day showdown against Northern Kentucky concluding the Alico Arena schedule on Saturday, March 1.
Times for the A-Sun sun contests will be available at a later date, along with the non-conference portion of FGCU’s schedule.
Last season, FGCU became the first school to go undefeated in A-Sun play in back-to-back seasons, finished the season with the most victories (27) of the 13 Division I institutions in the state of Florida and captured the program’s third consecutive A-Sun Regular Season crown (fourth in the last five years). FGCU also secured the ninth-straight 21+ win in program history and participated in their sixth consecutive Division I postseason tournament (WNIT). Leading the nation and the Atlantic Sun in three-point field goals per game (9.4), for the second year in a row, the FGCU women’s basketball team ranked in the top 40 in the country in 13 different statistical categories in the final NCAA rankings.
The Eagles return 10 players, including redshirt sophomore Whitney Knight (Winston-Salem, N.C./R.J. Reynolds HS) and redshirt freshman Taylor Gradinjan (Cudahy, Wisc./Cudahy HS) who sat out 2012-13 after ACL injuries, from last year’s squad that went 13-2 at Alico Arena. FGCU will also welcome newcomers redshirt junior Jenna Cobb (New Holland, Ohio/Miami Trace HS/Butler) and freshmen Morgan Blumer (Milton, Wisc./Milton HS) and Haley Laughter (Asheville, N.C./Carolina Day School). One of the most decorated players in the history of FGCU women's basketball and the Atlantic Sun Conference, three-year starter Sarah Hansen (McKean, Pa./General McLane HS), the 2013 College Sports Madness and Atlantic Sun Player of the Year, two-time A-Sun Scholar-Athlete of the Year, Capital One Academic All-America second team and Full Court Mid-Major All-American honorable mention, is FGCU’s top returning scorer (16.3 ppg) and rebounder (7.5 rpg). Rising sophomores DyTiesha Dunson (Albany, Ga./Westover HS) and Jaime Gluesing (Solon, Ohio/Solon HS), the A-Sun’s leader in three-point percentage in 2012-13, are the other returning starters.
FGCU season tickets can be purchased in person at the Alico Arena ticket office or by phone at 239-590-7145. The FGCU ticket office is open from 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. from Monday through Friday.
For the most up-to-date schedule throughout the season, click the 'Schedule' link on the women's basketball page.
FGCU fans can follow FGCU women’s basketball on Facebook at www.Facebook.com/FGCUWbb, on Twitter @FGCU_WBB and on Instagram @FGCUWbb.
A-Sun Conference Schedule
Dec. 30 - at Northern Kentucky
Jan. 1 - at Lipscomb
Jan. 6 - at Stetson
Jan. 9 - vs. UNF
Jan. 11 - vs. JACKSONVILLE
Jan. 16 - at USC Upstate
Jan. 18 - at ETSU
Jan. 23 - vs. MERCER
Jan. 25 - vs. KENNESAW STATE
Feb. 1 - vs. STETSON
Feb. 6 - at Jacksonville
Feb. 8 - at UNF
Feb. 13 - vs. ETSU
Feb. 15 - vs. USC UPSTATE
Feb. 20 - at Kennesaw State
Feb. 22 - at Mercer
Feb. 27 - vs. LIPSCOMB
Mar. 1 - vs. NORTHERN KENTUCKY
*-Home games in bold & CAPS