FLORIDA GULF COAST
12/29/2013 | Alico Arena - Fort Myers, Fla. | Attendance: 1946
|FLORIDA GULF COAST||30||34||64|
|Stats at a Glance||SJU||FGCU|
|3P FG Percentage||.250
FORT MYERS, Fla. – Despite strong second-half shooting and a season-high 28 points by senior Sarah Hansen, the FGCU women’s basketball team fell 76-64 at the hands of Saint Joseph’s University Sunday night at Alico Arena. With the loss, the Eagles finish nonconference action with a record of 6-6, while the Hawks of the Atlantic 10 improve to 10-2 on the year.
The Hawks stifled FGCU’s signature 3-point shooting and scored 24 points on 16 Eagle turnovers to serve the Green and Blue its second-consecutive home loss. The Eagles shot 55 percent in the second half but could not stop the visiting team’s offensive effort long enough to spark a comeback.
“When you’re playing a team as good as Saint Joseph’s, you have to play really, really well,” said head coach Karl Smesko. “We had too many defensive breakdowns and they have too many good players. Every time we defended something incorrectly they scored. You can’t give up that many points and expect to have a chance to steal it in the end.”
As a team, the Eagles shot 46.8 percent on the night, while allowing the Hawks to convert 47.5 percent of shots. From 3-point range, the Eagles went 4-for-9, while holding SJU to 4-of-16. The visiting team outrebounded FGCU, 33-28 and although the teams each made 16 shots from the free-throw line, Saint Joseph’s held the advantage at the line, 94.1 percent to 61.5 percent.
Hansen (McKean, Pa./General McLane High School) paced the Eagles’ individual efforts with 28 points in 39 minutes, while Stephanie Haas (Avon Lake, Ohio/Magnificat High School) added 10 points and a team-high five rebounds.
Individually, the Hawks saw four double-digit scorers with senior Erin Shields leading the way with 17 points.
The Eagles missed their first five field goal attempts to open the contest and allowed Saint Joseph’s to take a 5-1 in the opening minutes. A traditional three-point play from Hansen, followed by a fast-break layup from sophomore Kaneisha Atwater (Fort Pierce, Fla./Fort Pierce Westwood High School/VCU) cut the deficit and gave FGCU its first lead of the game, 6-5.
The teams traded points, and the advantage, in the next three minutes before the Hawks used an 8-2 run to claim a five-point lead midway through the half. After a made free throw by Haas, Hansen and Moore followed each with a steal and a fast-break layup to tie the game at 21 with nine minutes to play in the half.
The Hawks and Eagles again traded the lead before a series of FGCU turnovers helped SJU construct a seven-point run to give the visiting team a 30-24 lead with five minutes on the clock.
Two free throws by Hansen cut the streak but the Hawks extended their lead to the largest of the half at 34-26 on two-consecutive jump shots.
Hansen and Haas responded to the Hawk lead with layups but a last-minute free throw and layup put Saint Joe’s ahead 37-30 at the break.
The Hawks held FGCU scoreless from 3-point range in the first half, while shooting 45.7 percent from the field. The Eagles shot 40.7 percent. Both teams pulled down 18 rebounds.
Saint Joseph’s increased its lead to 10 points in the opening minute of the half with a 3-pointer by Shields. The Eagles used layups from Haas and Whitney Knight (Winston-Salem, N.C./R.J. Reynolds High School) to cut the lead to six points but saw as the Hawks used five-quick points to reclaim a double-digit advantage.
Hansen’s strong play and intensity helped the Eagles create several strong attempts but the Green and Blue was never able to cut the deficit to fewer than eight points. The Hawks maintained a double-figure lead through the majority of the second half and extended the advantage to a game-high 16 points with five minutes left to play.
Led by five points from Knight, the Eagles outscored SJU 9-5 in the final minutes of action but could not salvage a win. The Hawks ultimately earned a 76-64 victory.
Coupled with the loss to Virginia, the loss to Saint Joseph’s results in a two-game losing streak at Alico Arena for the Eagles. The streak is just the second in program history and the first since 2004.
After a challenging slate, the Eagles conclude nonconference action with a record of 6-6.
As the reigning regular season champions, the Eagles will begin Atlantic Sun action on Saturday, Jan. 4 when they welcome the Hatters of Stetson University to Alico Arena. Tipoff in the rematch of the 2013 A-Sun Championship game is slated for 7 p.m.
For up-to-the-minute information and behind-the-scenes access to the women’s basketball program, follow @FGCU_WBB on Twitter and Instagram, and “Like” us on Facebook at /FGCUWBB.
2013-14 women’s basketball season tickets are selling quickly. Fans can reserve their seat(s) by visiting the Alico Arena Ticket Office, calling 239-590-7145 or logging on to FGCUAthletics.com/Tickets.