@FGCU_WBB Returns to Alico to Host Mercer
Wednesday, February 12, 2014 | by Jamie Church (@jlchurch)
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Mercer (12-11 | 5-7 ASun)
at
FLORIDA GULF COAST (17-7 | 11-1 ASun)
2/13/2014 | Alico Arena - Fort Myers, Fla. | Attendance: 1561
1st2ndFinal
Mercer243357
FLORIDA GULF COAST455499
Stats at a GlanceMERFGCU
FG Percentage.400 (22-55) .521 (37-71)
3P FG Percentage.455 (5-11) .520 (13-25)
FT Percentage.571 (8-14) .667 (12-18)
Offensive Rebounds816
Defensive Rebounds2327
Total Rebounds3143
Turnovers179
Steals310
Bench Points3636
Statistical LeadersMERFGCU
PointsBRIDGES - 17
MCCLINTOCK - 17
DUNSON - 23
ReboundsROBINSON - 7
HANSEN - 10
AssistsBRIDGES - 6
ATWATER - 6
StealsBRIDGES - 1
WILLIAMS - 1
WILLIAMS - 1
DUNSON - 3
BlocksROBINSON - 2
KNIGHT - 3

Mercer (12-10 | 5-6 Atlantic Sun) at FGCU (16-7 | 10-1 Atlantic Sun)
Thursday, Feb. 13 | 7 p.m. | Alico Arena
Video: ESPN3
Live Stats: Statbroadcast via FGCUAthletics.com
Twitter: @FGCU_WBB
Game Notes: FGCU |  Mercer |  Atlantic Sun

FORT MYERS, Fla. – After playing six-of-nine games on the road, the FGCU women’s basketball team will return to the friendly confines of Alico Arena to host Mercer University on Thursday night.  The Atlantic Sun contest is slated for 7 p.m. and can be viewed live and free of charge on ESPN3 with David Moulton and J. Webb Horton on the air.

The Eagles will honor the ‘Think Pink’ initiative in an effort to support the Kay Yow Cancer Fund and the Play 4 Kay organization during Thursday’s game.  Since its inception in 2007, Play 4Kay has raised over $2.8 million to support women's cancer research. The Kay Yow Cancer Fund is the official charity of the initiative. To date, the Fund has contributed over $3.8 million for women's cancer research.  Fans are encouraged to wear pink.

THE GREEN & BLUE

The defending regular-season champion Eagles began conference play at 8-0 for the third-consecutive year and but fell to Northern Kentucky to snap a multi-year regular season conference win streak.  The team got back on track with two wins last weekend and currently sits at 10-1 in Atlantic Sun action. The Eagles hold a first-place tie with in-state rival Stetson and maintain an overall record of 16-7. 

The Eagles have scored 66.4 points per game this season, while holding opponents at 61 points scored per contest for a conference-best points allowed.  In conference play, FGCU has outscored the opposition by a margin of 12.8 points through 11 games and have held foes to an average of 54 points per game. 

Eagle opponents have controlled the boards through 23 games this season with a 40.4 to 34.5 advantage, while the Eagles have maintained control of the ball with just 14 turnovers per game.  FGCU has forced 17.8 opponent turnovers per game this season for a turnover margin that ranks among the top 10 percent of Division I teams.

Offensively, FGCU has recorded a shooting percentage of .391 this season with a clip of .334 from the perimeter.  The team has made a combined 290 shots from long range, with an average of 9.9 per game to rank second among the nation’s 349 teams. 

TOP CONTRIBUTORS

The Eagles boast three double-digit producers in senior Sarah Hansen (McKean, Pa./General McLane High School) and sophomores Whitney Knight (Winston-Salem, N.C./R.J. Reynolds High School) and Stephanie Haas (Avon Lake, Ohio/Magnificat High School).  All three players rank among the top-20 scorers in the conference.

Hansen sits atop of the team rankings with an average of 13.8 points per game.  The senior captain also leads the squad with 6.8 rebounds per game and ranks second in the league with a team-high 51 steals on the season.  Hansen scored a season-high 26 points at USC Upstate last weekend to bring her career total to 1,756,

Knight adds 12.8 points per game and leads the team with 64 blocks on the year.  Knight ranks among the top-20 nationally with 2.78 blocks per game and leads the Eagles and the conference with 57 made shots from the perimeter.   

Haas has continued to add to the Eagles’ offensive attack this season and is currently averaging 10.9 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 contributors with 7.9 and 7.0 points per game, respectively.  Cobb leads the team with 60 assists on the year and has been a tremendous force on defense for the Eagles with 39 steals.

Sophomore DyTiesha Dunson (Albany, Ga./Westover High School) entered the Eagles’ starting lineup one month ago and has added 7.0 points per game in conference action.  Dunson has also contributed a team-high 48 assists through 11 conference games including a career-high eight assists at USC Upstate last weekend. 

After scoring just 29 points in the first 19 games, sophomore Katie Meador (Salem, Ill./Salem Community High School) added 39 points in the last four contests.  Meador put up a career-high 13 points against USC Upstate with five made field goals.

GAME DAY TWEETABLES

- The Eagles hold an impressive 13-0 mark over Mercer dating back to the 2007-08 season.  FGCU has outscored the Bears by an average of 80-57.

- The Eagles have faced two of the nation’s top three scorers this season in FIU’s Coley and Stanford’s Ogwumike.  The duo combined for 12 fewer points than their average against FGCU.

- The Eagles’ nation-high win streak in regular season conference action was snapped at NKU last weekend. The streak spanned 1,067 days.

- FGCU currently ranks second in the nation with 9.9 3-point shots made per game.

- The Eagles boast three players that rank among the league’s top 20 scorers in Hansen, Knight and Haas.

- The team recently earned its 300th win against Jacksonville.  All wins have come under the leadership of Coach Smesko, who holds a career record of 364-93.

- Of the Eagles’ 1,528 points this season, 44.7 percent have been scored from beyond-the-arc.

- Hansen currently ranks 11th among all-time A-Sun scorers with 1,756 points and 21st in all-time rebounding at 800 boards.  She sits 56 points out of the top 10.

 - The Eagles have made 3,265 3-pointers in 367 games for an average of 8.9 per game through 12 years.

- Hansen set her 10th all-time program record last Thursday with her 118th career start.

- The Eagles have seen 185 variations players on the court this season but have used just three different starting lineups.

- FGCU has produced five games with 10 turnovers or fewer.

- With four blocks, Knight will become the FGCU all-time program leader at 122 swatted shots.

- The Eagles finished the month of January with a mark of 8-0.

- Thursday will mark the final time FGCU and Mercer will meet in Atlantic Sun action as the Bears are set to join the Southern Conference on July 1.

LAST TIME OUT

With a season-high 26 points from Hansen, the team earned its 10th Atlantic Sun win of the season with a 76-69 victory over USC Upstate Saturday afternoon at the Hodge Center. 

The Eagles took control of the game midway through the first half and extended their lead to a game-high 18 points in the early minutes of the second stanza.  The team maintained the advantage through the majority of the contest and held a 14-point lead in the final four minutes, but saw as the Spartans produced a challenge late in the game.  A 10-point run enabled the home team to cut the deficit to just four points in the final minute of action, but free throws down the stretch helped the Eagles survive the scare and earn a 76-69 win.

Hansen led all players with 26 points on the day with a career-record six made 3-point shots, while Meador added a career-high 13 points.

ALL-TIME MEETINGS

Thursday will mark the 14th meeting between the Eagles and the Bears, dating back to the 2007-08 season.  The Eagles hold a perfect 13-0 record in the all-time series, including a win earlier this season at Hawkins Arena.  The Eagles’ largest win over the Bears was a 98-50 win in 2012.

LAST TIME AGAINST THE BEARS

Backed by 13 team 3-pointers and 18 points from Knight, the FGCU women’s basketball team defeated Mercer University 69-57 on Jan. 18 in Macon, Ga.

The Eagles held a 10-point advantage at halftime but broke open the lead early in the second half by sinking 6-of-10 3-point shots in the opening minutes.  FGCU maintained the lead on strong shooting and capitalizing on Mercer mistakes.  The Eagles extended their lead to a game high 30 points midway through the second half and ultimately took the win, 69-57.

The team converted 42 percent of shots from the field and 37 percent of long-range attempts, while holding the Bears to a shooting percentage of 36 percent overall and just 20 percent from beyond-the-arc.  The Eagles won the rebound battle 40-33 and forced 15 Mercer turnovers. 

With four made 3-pointers on five attempts, Knight led the Eagles with 18 points on the day. Knight also grabbed five rebounds and four steals and dished out two assists.

Atwater and Haas added double-figures for the Green and Blue with 14 and 11 points, respectively.  Atwater also paced the Eagles with seven rebounds in 27 minutes.

THE STREAK

The Green and Blue currently hold a 51-game home win streak that dates back to .  The team has won 51 consecutive Atlantic Sun games at Alico Arena since January of 2009 and currently holds an all-time home record of 60-1 in conference play at home since the 2007-08 season. 

SCOUTING THE VISITING TEAM

- The Bears of Mercer are 12-10 this season with a 5-6 Atlantic Sun record.  The record includes a loss to FGCU in January and a 76-71 win over Lipscomb in their most recent outing.

- As a team, the Bears are averaging 63.9 points per game this season, while allowing opponents to 64.9 points per contest.  The Bears have successfully converted 39.7 percent of shots from the field and 25.5 percent of shots from long range.  Bear foes are shooting 38.6 percent this season with a 32.4 percent clip from beyond-the-arc.  The Bears average just 12.3 turnovers per game, while dishing out 14 assists and grabbing 5.6 steals.

- The Bears boast a versatile lineup with six players to watch this season.  Offensively, the team is led by three Preseason All-Atlantic Sun Team members in junior guards Precious Bridges and Brianna Williams and senior guard Kendra Grant.  Bridges has averaged a team-high 15.7 points per games this season and has grabbed 24 steals but did not see the court against FGCU in the teams’ first meeting.  Williams adds 13.1 points per game and currently leads the conference in career 20+ point games. Sharnea Boykin has facilitated the offense this season with 147 assists and ranks 10th in the nation in assists per game.  Defensively, Teanna Robinson currently ranks second in the nation with 3.91 blocks per game and pulls down 10 rebounds per game. 

- The Bears earned the no. 3 seed in last season’s Atlantic Sun Conference tournament after finishing the season with a record of 20-12 overall and 13-5 in conference.  This season, the Bears were selected to finish third in the conference preseason poll, behind just FGCU and Stetson.

PRESEASON PROSPECTUS

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 100-12.  The impressive mark includes a 36-game win streak in regular-season play that dates back to 2011 and a 45-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.

FOR MORE INFO

For all the details on Thurday’s matchup check out: 

 

 

UP NEXT

After Thursday’s matchup against the Bears, the Eagles will welcome Kennesaw State to Alico Arena.  Saturday’s game is slated for 7 p.m.  Fans are encouraged to wear red on Saturday as the team honors the American Heart Association.

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.