(12-11 | 5-7 ASun)
FLORIDA GULF COAST
(17-7 | 11-1 ASun)
2/13/2014 | Alico Arena - Fort Myers, Fla. | Attendance: 1561
|FLORIDA GULF COAST||45||54||99|
|Stats at a Glance||MER||FGCU|
|3P FG Percentage||.455
FORT MYERS, Fla. – With the team’s strongest offensive performance of the season, the FGCU women’s basketball team earned a 99-57 win over Mercer University Thursday night at Alico Arena. With the win, the Eagles improve to 17-7 on the season with an 11-1 mark in Atlantic Sun action, while the Bears drop to 12-11 overall and 5-7 in league play.
FGCU allowed Mercer to take a two-point lead to open the game but quickly constructed an 18-4 run to claim a double-figure lead midway through the first half. After holding a 45-24 advantage at the break, the Eagles sank 8-of-10 field goals to start second stanza and extend their lead to 34 points. The team shot 62 percent and outrebounded Mercer 21-11 in the second half to maintain the advantage. The strong offensive surge helped the Eagles increase their lead to a season-high 48 points and ultimately pushed the Green and Blue to the 42-point victory.
“We’re definitely very pleased with our performance tonight,” said head coach Karl Smesko. “I thought we played really good defense in the first half. We forced a lot of turnovers, we got it out in conversion and for the most part we made good decisions.”
“We worked as a team, we moved the ball, we hit the open person and this was a game where we shot the ball very well, especially from the 3-point line,” Smesko added. “This was definitely one of our best performances, especially offensively. We got on a roll and a lot of people were contributing. It was a really great team effort.”
Sophomore DyTiesha Dunson (Albany, Ga./Westover High School) led all players with a career-high 23 points on nine made field goals, including five from beyond-the-arc, while three others contributed double-figure points. Senior Sarah Hansen (McKean, Pa./General McLane High School), joined sophomores Whitney Knight (Winston-Salem, N.C./R.J. Reynolds High School) and Stephanie Haas (Avon Lake, Ohio/Magnificat High School) to score 18 points each for the Eagles.
Hansen led the Eagles on the boards with 10 rebounds for her third double-double of the season, while Knight pulled down eight rebounds and swatted three shots to tie the all-time career record at 121 blocks in just 56 games.
Sophomore Kaneisha Atwater (Fort Pierce, Fla./Fort Pierce Westwood High School/VCU) facilitated the Eagle offense with a season-best six assists to help the team produce a season-high 22 assists on the night.
As a team, the Eagles successfully converted 52 percent of shots, including 52 percent of 3-point attempts and 67 percent of shots from the free-throw line. The team held Mercer to a 40 percent clip from the field with 5-of-11 3-point shots made. FGCU outrebounded Mercer 43-31 and scored a season-high 18 second-chance points.
Defensively, the team scored 22 points on 17 forced Mercer turnovers. The Eagles never allowed Mercer to score more than four-consecutive points and held the Bears to less than one point per possession, while recording a season-high 1.37 points per possession themselves.
Mercer started the contest quickly with an immediate layup off the tip. Jenna Cobb (New Holland, Ohio/Miami Trace High School/Butler) tied the game with a layup before two-consecutive long-range shots from Knight sparked a run for the Eagles.
Baskets from Haas, Hansen and Dunson extended the Eagle run to 18-4 and gave the Eagles a 20-6 lead nine minutes into the game. After trading baskets with the Bears, the Eagles produced three more brief runs to extend their lead to 23 points near the end of the first half.
Backed by 16 first-half points from Dunson, the Eagles entered the break with a 45-24 lead.
Knight opened the second stanza with a quick layup to spark the Eagle offense once again. Hansen and Dunson followed and helped the Green and Blue produce a 16-5 run that included eight made field goals on 10 attempts in the opening five minutes of the second half.
The run extended FGCU’s lead to 34 points before Mercer cut the frenzy with a 3-point shot. The Eagles outscored Mercer 21-5 over a span of seven minutes midway through the half to go ahead 84-37 with seven minutes to play.
The teams again traded baskets before sophomore Katie Meador (Salem, Ill./Salem Community High School) used two free throws to give the home team its largest advantage of the season at 90-42.
Mercer’s Taylor McClintock sank three-consecutive 3-pointers for the Bears in the final five minutes but could not bring the Bears within reach. The Eagles ultimately earned their largest win of the season, 99-57.
In addition to the assist mark, the Eagles also set season highs in points scored, field-goals made, field-goals attempted, field-goal percentage and 3-point percentage. The point total marked the Eagles’ highest since the 2012-13 season opener against Warner and the most points scored in an Atlantic Sun game since February of 2009. The Eagles also recorded their sixth game of the season with 10 turnovers or fewer.
The Green and Blue will continue the season at Alico Arena on Saturday as the team welcomes Kennesaw State for a 7 p.m. contest. Fans are encouraged to wear red as FGCU will honor 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 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.