@FGCU_WBB Continues Road Trip at Northern Kentucky
Friday, January 31, 2014 | by Jamie Church (@jlchurch)
Kaneisha Atwater led the Eagles' comeback at Lipscomb Thursday
Kaneisha Atwater led the Eagles' comeback at Lipscomb Thursday
Northern Kentucky (11-9, 7-2)
2/1/2014 | Highland Heights, Ky. | Attendance: 1211
Northern Kentucky323163
Stats at a GlanceFGCUNKU
FG Percentage.319 (15-47) .489 (23-47)
3P FG Percentage.308 (8-26) .500 (9-18)
FT Percentage.625 (5-8) 1.000 (8-8)
Offensive Rebounds1011
Defensive Rebounds1325
Total Rebounds2336
Bench Points149
Statistical LeadersFGCUNKU
PointsKNIGHT - 19
ReboundsDUNSON - 6
AssistsKNIGHT - 2
COBB - 2
StealsHAAS - 2
BlocksKNIGHT - 4
DOSS - 1

FGCU (14-6 | 8-0 Atlantic Sun) at Northern Kentucky (10-9 | 6-2 Atlantic Sun)
Saturday, Feb. 1  | 7 p.m. | The Bank of Kentucky Center
Video: ASun.TV
Live Stats: via NKUNorse.com
Twitter: @FGCU_WBB
Game Notes: FGCU |  Northern Kentucky  |  Atlantic Sun

HIGHLAND HEIGHTS, Ky. – As the Atlantic Sun Conference season reaches its midway point, the FGCU women’s basketball team will take on Northern Kentucky University Saturday night at The Bank of Kentucky Center.  Tipoff in the conference contest is slated for 7 p.m.


The Eagles used a 30-point turnaround to defeat Lipscomb on Thursday and move to a perfect 8-0 in conference action this season.  FGCU holds an overall record of 14-6 and sits alone atop the conference standings.

As a team, the Eagles have averaged 66.9 points per game, while holding opponents to 61.3 points per contest.  In conference games, the team has held an average margin of victory at 16.1 points. 

Offensively, the Green and Blue is shooting 39.3 percent from the field with a mark of 33.2 percent from 3-point range, while holding opponents to a success rate of 39 percent from the floor and 29 percent from beyond-the-arc.  The Eagles have made 190 3-pointers this season and rank among the nation’s top five teams with 9.5 long-range baskets per contest.

FGCU opponents have held a rebounding advantage this season as the Eagles have pulled down 35 boards per game and have allowed foes to grab 40.6.  In conference action, the opponent advantage falls to just one rebound per game.  The Eagles have forced 17.9 opponent turnovers a game this season with 9.3 steals per game and have dished out 12.9 assists.


The Green and Blue currently hold the nation’s longest regular season conference win streak at 44 games.  The Eagles previously sat behind Big 12 power, Baylor University but saw as the Bears recently fell to Kansas. The streak includes two previous 18-0 seasons and an 8-0 mark in conference play this season.  


Head coach Karl Smesko and the team picked up their 300th program victory with a win over Jacksonville.  Through 12 seasons, Smesko has guided the team to an average of 25 wins per year and an overall record of 302-62.


Senior Sarah Hansen (McKean, Pa./General McLane High School) ranks highest on the team with an average of 13.7 points per game.  The captain also leads the squad with 6.8 rebounds per game and 49 steals on the season.  Hansen has scored in double-figures on 14 occasions this season.

Redshirt-Sophomore Whitney Knight (Winston-Salem, N.C./R.J. Reynolds High School) adds 12.8 points per game and leads the team with 57 blocks.  Knight ranks among the top 15 nationally with 2.95 blocks per game and leads the Eagles with 47 made shots from long range.   

Sophomore Stephanie Haas (Avon Lake, Ohio/Magnificat High School) has continued to add to the Eagles’ offensive strength this season and is currently averaging 12 points per contest, while transfers Kaneisha Atwater (Fort Pierce, Fla./Fort Pierce Westover High School) and Jenna Cobb (New Holland, Ohio/Miami Trace High School) round out the Eagles’ top offensive contributors with 8.4 and 7.2 points per game, respectively.  Cobb leads the team with 53 assists on the year and has been a tremendous force on defense for the Eagles.

Sophomore DyTiesha Dunson (Albany, Ga./Westover High School) entered the Eagles’ starting lineup six games ago and has added 6.9 points per game in conference action including a career-high 17 points in the win over Kennesaw State.  Dunson has also contributed 33 assists through eight conference games.


- The Eagles and Norse have faced off just twice since NKU joined the Atlantic Sun last season.  FGCU picked up two wins last season by an average of 22 points.

- FGCU’s recent starting five (Atwater, Dunson, Hansen, Haas, Knight) have averaged 79 percent of the team’s 68.8 points per game in conference action.

- The Eagles’ are currently riding a national best 44-game win streak in regular season conference action.

- The team earned its 300th win last week and currently stands at 302-62 through 12 years.  All wins have come under the leadership of Smesko.

- Smesko picked up his 350th career win against FIU on Nov. 8. That’s a career record of 363-92 & a win percentage of .800.

- Senior Sarah Hansen currently ranks 11th among all-time A-Sun scorers with 1,712 points and 25th in all-time rebounding at 779 boards.

- The Eagles have made 3,232 3-pointers in 364 games for an average of 8.8 per game through 12 years.

- Of the Eagles’ 1,339 points this season, 42.5 percent have been scored from beyond-the-arc.

- It has been 1,069 days since the Eagles lost their last regular season Atlantic Sun game.


After trailing by 10 points late in the first half, the team produced a 30-point turnaround to earn an 85-67 victory over Lipscomb Thursday night at Allen Arena.  With the win, the Eagles remain undefeated with a record of 8-0 in Atlantic Sun action and hold a 14-6 overall mark.  The Lady Bison fall to 3-16 overall and 0-8 in conference play.

The home team took an initial lead and pressured the Eagles through the first half.  The Lady Bison extended their advantage to a game-high 10 points with five minutes remaining in the half before the Eagles exploded for a comeback.  Led by 10 points from Atwater, the Green and Blue produced a 17-2 run to end the half with a 29-24 lead.  Sparked by a shooting percentage greater than 50 percent in the second half and a season-high 15 3-pointers, the Eagles increased their lead to a game-high 21 points and ultimately took their eighth win of the conference season with their highest point total of the year.

Hansen led the Eagles’ offensive production with 18 points, while Atwater put up 14 and Jenna contributed 12 points.  Three others added strong numbers for FGCU as Haas and Knight each scored nine points and sophomore Katie Meador (Salem, Ill./Salem Community High School) recorded a season-high eight points.

Haas, Hansen and Meador paced the Green and Blue rebounding effort with six each, while Dunson led the team with six assists.

As a unit, the Eagles shot 45.3 percent from the field, while holding the Lady Bison to a mark of 35.6 percent.  The high shooting percentage included a second-half efficiency of 53.1 percent.  The team converted 39.5 percent of shots from beyond-the-arc, with 10-of-21 made in the second half, and made 66.7 percent of its free throws.   The Eagles also outrebounded the Lady Bison 43-36 and produced a season-high 21 assists.


The Eagles and Norse have met just twice since Northern Kentucky joined the Atlantic Sun last season.  FGCU earned two wins by an average advantage of 22 points.  The Eagles defeated NKU 68-53 last February at the Bank of Kentucky Center after earning a 79-50 win at Alico Arena.


In the last meeting between the A-Sun’s newest teams, the Eagles took the lead early and never relinquished the advantage en route to a 68-53 win in Kentucky.  The Eagles shot 39.7 percent from the field and held NKU to 37 percent overall and just 15 percent from 3-point range.  FGCU forced 17 NKU turnovers with 11 steals.  Individually, Hansen led the Eagles with 18 points and 13 rebounds through 35 minutes.


- The Norse are currently 10-9 on the season with a record of 6-2 in Atlantic Sun action after falling to Stetson on Thursday evening.  The team is currently tied for third place in the league.

- As a team, NKU has averaged 65.7 points per game this season, while holding opponents to an average of 64.6 points per contest.  In conference action, the Norse have outscored opponents 68.9 to 63.5.  NKU has shot 39 percent from the field this season with foes converting 40.9 percent of shots, including a league-high 34 percent from 3-point range.  The team pulls down 34.8 rebounds per game, 4.5 fewer than its opposition and turns the ball over an average of 14.3 times.

- Individually, the Norse are led by junior forward Melody Doss.  Doss leads the team with 16.7 points and 7.9 rebounds per game and has swatted 33 blocks and grabbed 24 steals this season.  Senior Kayla Thacker adds 11.1 points per game, while Christine Roush has contributed 9.5 on 49 percent shooting from beyond-the-arc.  Rookie Kelley Wiegman has added 44 assists and 25 steals to the team’s effort with 14 starts, while classmate Lauren White is averaging 8.1 after scoring a team-high 23 points against Stetson.

-After finishing last season with a 15-13 overall record and a mark of 12-6 in Atlantic Sun action, the Norse were selected to finish fourth among the league’s teams this season.  However, due to reclassification, NKU is currently ineligible for the postseason tournament.


Although the Eagles ultimately earned a hearty victory, the contest at Lipscomb saw a roller coaster of performances. FGCU opened the game with poor shooting and at one point maintained a shooting percentage of just 16 percent.  The team rebounded and sparked a strong statistical game overall.  The Eagles in turn recorded season highs in points, points in a single half, 3-point shots made, assists and scored the greatest number of points per possession in A-Sun play at 1.165.


On the heels of two perfect Atlantic Sun seasons, the FGCU women’s basketball team was predicted to continue its success as the preseason favorite in both the Atlantic Sun Conference Preseason Coaches’ Poll and the A-Sun Media poll.

With 97 points, the Eagles finished nine points ahead of defending A-Sun Tournament Champion Stetson in the coaches’ poll, while FGCU earned 327 points in the media poll.  The Green and Blue picked up seven of the league’s 10 first-place votes in the coaches poll and was voted as the top-ranked team 30 times by the media. 

It was the fifth-consecutive year that the Eagles’ earned the league’s top vote after winning the A-Sun regular season in four of the last five seasons.  In six seasons of A-Sun action, the Eagles hold a record of 106-12.  The impressive mark includes a 42-game win streak in regular-season play that dates back to 2011 and a 50-game win streak at Alico Arena.

The Eagles also picked up numerous individual preseason awards with Hansen leading the way.  Hansen was named the Atlantic Sun Preseason Player of the Year, the Atlantic Sun Fan-Voted Preseason Player of the Year and the College Sports Madness Preseason Player of the Year.  Knight earned Atlantic Sun Preseason All-Conference nod, while Dunson was voted by the fans as the Defensive Preseason Player of the Year.  As the reigning A-Sun Coach of the Year, Smesko was named the Preseason Coach of the Year by College Sports Madness to begin this season.


After returning to Fort Myers briefly, the Eagles will continue the swing of road games next weekend.  The team will face ETSU in Johnson City, Tenn. on Thursday, Feb. 6 before traveling to Spartanburg, S.C. to take on USC Upstate on Saturday, Feb. 8.

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 and single-game 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.