FLORIDA GULF COAST
(10-6, 4-0 A-Sun)
(4-12, 2-3 A-Sun)
1/16/2014 | Kennesaw, Ga. (KSU Convocation Center) | Attendance: 659
|FLORIDA GULF COAST||36||33||69|
|Stats at a Glance||FGCU||KSU|
|3P FG Percentage||.333
KENNESAW, Ga. – Despite a second-half surge by Kennesaw State, the FGCU women’s basketball team picked up its fourth double-digit Atlantic Sun win Thursday night at the KSU Convocation Center. With a 69-55 victory, the Eagles improve to 10-6 on the season. The team begins conference play with a perfect 4-0 record for the fifth-consecutive year, while the Owls fall to 4-12 on the year and 2-3 in the A-Sun.
Led by 10 points from sophomore DyTiesha Dunson (Albany, Ga./Westover High School), the Eagles took control in the first half. FGCU capitalized on nine Kennesaw turnovers to score 14 points and went into the break with a 36-24 advantage. The Owls challenged the Eagles in the second half and cut the deficit to just two points midway through the half but FGCU responded to outscore the home team 27-15 in the final 10 minutes to earn the win.
“This is a really good win for us,” said head coach Karl Smesko of the team’s fourth victory away from Alico Arena. “I thought Kennesaw State played well. They really challenged us in the second half. I’m just proud that are team made plays when we needed it most and we were able to come up with the win.”
The victory marked the Eagles’ 40th consecutive regular-season Atlantic Sun win for the nation’s second-best conference win streak. The game was also the third-consecutive contest that the Eagles saw four double-digit scorers.
Dunson led all players with a career-high 17 points, while Stephanie Haas (Avon Lake, Ohio/Magnificat High School) added 16 for the Green and Blue. Senior Sarah Hansen (McKean, Pa./General McLane High School) contributed 14 points, all in the second half with Kaneisha Atwater (Fort Pierce, Fla./Fort Pierce Westwood High School/VCU) scoring 11 in 25 minutes of action.
Hansen’s all-around game aided in the Eagle-win as the captain added seven rebounds, six assists, three steals and one block. Hansen recorded zero turnovers in 33 minutes.
Collectively, the Eagles shot 40 percent from the field with a 33.3 percent success rate from 3-point range. The Owl’s second-half surge increased their shooting percentage to 41.8 percent on the night. The home team shot 20 percent from beyond-the-arc and 75 percent from the free-throw line.
The Owls held a 38-34 advantage on the glass but turned the ball over 15 times compared to the Eagles’ seven miscues.
Haas opened the game with a 3-pointer on an assist from Hansen before the Owls responded with two quick layups to take a 4-3 edge in the opening minutes. The brief advantage would be the last lead the home team held as Dunson single-handedly produced an eight-point run with two 3-pointers and a fast-break layup to give FGCU an 11-4 lead.
The Eagles maintained control of the game as the teams traded baskets midway through the half before 3-pointers from Atwater, Jenna Cobb (New Holland, Ohio/Miami Trace High School/Butler) and Whitney Knight (Winston-Salem, N.C./R.J. Reynolds High School) extended the FGCU lead to 14 points.
The Owls cut the Eagle momentum with a 3-pointer of their own to bring the score to 32-19 with five minutes remaining in the clock. The teams again traded baskets in the final minutes and the Eagles went into the break ahead 36-24.
Atwater started the second half with a quick shot from long range to give FGCU a 15-point edge but the Eagles saw as the home team took hold of the momentum and mounted a comeback.
The Owls’ defense held FGCU scoreless for a period of six minutes, while scoring 10-straight points. A 3-point shot from KSU’s leading scorer cut the deficit to 42-40 midway through the half and forced FGCU to call timeout.
Dunson cut the scoring drought out of the timeout with a 3-pointer from the right side before Hansen and Haas combined for seven points to cap a 10-point run. The streak put FGCU ahead 52-42 with 8:31 left to play.
Kennesaw continued to challenge the Eagles but was unable to cut the deficit to fewer than seven points for the rest of the game.
The teams traded baskets in the final five minutes before a long-range shot from Cobb gave the Green and Blue its largest lead of the game in the last minute of action. The Eagles ultimately took a 14-point lead at 69-55.
With the win the Eagles remain undefeated in Atlantic Sun action. They sit atop the standings tied with Northern Kentucky (9-7, 5-0) and Jacksonville (7-8, 4-0). NKU and JU will face off on Saturday afternoon in Jacksonville.
FGCU will continue the conference road trip on Saturday, Jan. 18 in Macon, Ga. The Eagles will face the Bears of Mercer University in a 3 p.m. tipoff. Mercer fell to Stetson, 72-60, on Thursday evening and now sits at 9-7 on the year with a 2-3 league record.
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.