@FGCU_WBB Set for Rematch With Northern Kentucky in Regular-Season Home Finale
Friday, February 28, 2014 | by Jamie Church (@jlchurch)
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Senior Sarah Hansen will be honored prior to her final conference game at Alico Arena  Photo Credit: Linwood Ferguson
Senior Sarah Hansen will be honored prior to her final conference game at Alico Arena Photo Credit: Linwood Ferguson
Northern Kentucky (15-12|11-5 ASun)
at
FLORIDA GULF COAST (22-7|16-1 ASun)
3/1/2014 | Alico Arena - Fort Myers, Fla. | Attendance: 1795
1st2ndFinal
Northern Kentucky302353
FLORIDA GULF COAST293867
Stats at a GlanceNKUFGCU
FG Percentage.362 (21-58) .420 (21-50)
3P FG Percentage.389 (7-18) .321 (9-28)
FT Percentage.571 (4-7) .727 (16-22)
Offensive Rebounds85
Defensive Rebounds2831
Total Rebounds3636
Turnovers1514
Steals511
Bench Points1020
Statistical LeadersNKUFGCU
PointsROUSH - 12
DOSS - 12
KNIGHT - 17
ReboundsTHACKER - 7
HANSEN - 10
AssistsGAYHEART - 3
THACKER - 3
DUNSON - 7
StealsGAYHEART - 2
HANSEN - 3
HAAS - 3
BlocksGERRETY - 1
KNIGHT - 3

FORT MYERS, Fla. – On the heels of the program’s Division I points record, the FGCU women’s basketball team will look to carry the momentum into the team’s final home game of the Atlantic Sun season on Saturday.  The Eagles will take on Northern Kentucky at 7 p.m. in a rematch of the team’s only blemish on an otherwise perfect conference record.  Fans can watch the game live and free of charge on ESPN3 with David Moulton and J. Webb Horton on the call.

Prior to the game, senior Sarah Hansen (McKean, Pa./General McLane High School) will be honored for her time with the Eagles in a Senior Day ceremony.

THE GREEN & BLUE

Since falling to Northern Kentucky midway through the conference slate, the Eagles have outscored opponents by an average of 27 points a game to pick up seven-straight wins.  The Eagles now stand at 21-7 on the season with a record of 15-1 in league play for their 10th-straight 20-win season.  The team maintains a tie at the top the Atlantic Sun standings with in-state rival Stetson University, who they will face in the conference finale.   

The Eagles have scored 68.8 points per game this season, while holding opponents at 59.5 points scored per contest for an A-Sun best points allowed.  In conference play, FGCU has outscored the opposition by a margin of 18.8 points through 16 games and has held foes to an average of 53.8 points per game. 

Eagle opponents have held a rebounding advantage through 28 games this season with a 39.0 to 34.8 average but FGCU has maintained control of the ball with just 12.6 turnovers in conference play, while forcing 18.3 miscues per game.  The team maintains a turnover margin of +5.6 to rank among the top seven percent of Division I teams.

Offensively, FGCU has recorded a shooting percentage of 41.3 this season with a clip of 34.2 percent from the perimeter.  The team has made a combined 269 shots from long range, with an average of 10 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 14.0 points per game.  The senior captain also leads the squad with 7.1 rebounds per game and ranks third in the league with a team-high 55 steals on the season.  Hansen has averaged over 16 points per game in the last three weeks and has increased her career total to 1,830 points.

Knight adds 12.4 points per game and leads the team with 77 blocks on the year for a new single-season FGCU record.  Knight ranks among the top-20 nationally with 2.79 blocks per game and leads the Eagles and the conference with 68 made shots from the perimeter.   

Haas has continued to add to the Eagles’ offense this season and is currently averaging 11.5 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 point producers with 7.9 and 7.5 points per game, respectively.  Cobb has added 67 assists on the year and has been a tremendous force on defense for the Eagles with 49 steals.

Sophomore DyTiesha Dunson (Albany, Ga./Westover High School) entered the Eagles’ starting lineup in January and has added 8.0 points per game in conference action.  Dunson has also contributed 81 assists on the season with 77 of those in conference action. 

LAST TIME OUT

Backed by the highest point total in any FGCU Division I game, the team defeated Lipscomb 108-67 Thursday night at Alico Arena.  With the win, the Eagles improved to 21-7 on the season with a 15-1 mark in Atlantic Sun action.

The Eagles used a shooting percentage of 67.6 in the first half with eight made shots from the perimeter to take a strong lead early in the game.  The team produced a season-high 64 points in the first half and went into the break with a 64-27 lead.  The Bisons increased their offensive production in the second half but were never able to cut the deficit to fewer than 32 points.  The Eagles maintained the strong shooting performance and ultimately earned a 51-point victory. 

Atwater paced the Eagles with a season-high 16 points, all in the first half, while six others produced double-figure points.  Knight added 15 points with senior captain Hansen and Amanda Moore (Seymour, Ind./Seymour High School) each adding 13.  Dunson contributed 12 points for FGCU and recorded a career-high nine assists.  Hansen led the Eagles’ rebounding effort with 10 boards for her fifth double-double of the season.

With 13 points and 10 rebounds, Hansen moved ahead in the Atlantic Sun all-time record books.  Hansen now ranks eighth with 1,830 career points and 20th with 843 rebounds.

Collectively, the Eagles successfully converted a season-high 58.8 percent of shots with 12 made buckets from the perimeter and a 50 percent shooting clip.  The team outrebounded Lipscomb 41-27 and turned the ball over just nine times, while forcing 14 Lipscomb miscues. 

The game marked the 11th time in program history that the Eagles have scored 100 points or more.

ALL-TIME MEETINGS

The Eagles and Norse have met just three times since Northern Kentucky joined the Atlantic Sun last season.  FGCU earned two wins by an average advantage of 22 points before falling to NKU by 20 points this season in Highland Heights, Ky.  Through three meetings, the Eagles hold an average margin of victory of 10 points per game.

LAST TIME AGAINST THE NORSE

The FGCU women’s basketball team’s nation-high 44-game Atlantic Sun win streak was halted on Feb. 1 at The Bank of Kentucky Center as the Eagles were defeated 63-43 by Northern Kentucky University. 

Saturday marked the first conference loss for the Eagles since Feb. 28, 2011 and the team’s largest margin of defeat since joining the A-Sun in 2007. The team has never scored fewer than 43 points in a contest.

After producing a 10-point run to take the lead midway through the first half, the Eagles were held scoreless for seven minutes and saw as the Norse produced a 23-point streak that spanned the first and second half.  NKU converted 7-of-12 3-point shots in the second half to extend its lead to a game-high 22 points and maintained a significant advantage through the end of the game.

As a team, the Eagles shot 31.9 percent from the floor, while allowing the home team to convert 48.9 percent of shot attempts.  The Norse made 50 percent of their 3-point attempts and sank 8-of-8 free throws.  The Eagles were held to 30 percent from 3-point range and committed 21 turnovers.  NKU also out-performed FGCU on the glass with a 36-23 rebound advantage.

SCOUTING THE VISITING TEAM

- The Norse are currently 15-11 on the season with a record of 11-4 in Atlantic Sun.  The team is currently tied for third place in the league with recent wins over North Florida, Jacksonville and Lipscomb and a loss to Stetson on Thursday.

- As a team, NKU has averaged 64.9 points per game this season, while holding opponents to an average of 63.3 points per contest.  NKU has shot 39.8 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 34.7 rebounds per game, 3.3 fewer than its opposition and turns the ball over an average of 14.5 times.

- Individually, the Norse are led by junior forward Melody Doss.  Doss leads the team with 14.9 points and 6.7 rebounds per game and has swatted 38 blocks and grabbed 29 steals this season.  Senior Kayla Thacker adds 12.6 points per game, while Christine Roush has contributed 9.1 on 43 percent shooting from beyond-the-arc.  Rookie Kelley Wiegman has added 65 assists and 33 steals to the team’s effort with 22 starts.  Thacker led the Norse against FGCU in the teams’ first meeting with 22 points, while Doss was held to just seven points.

-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.

THE STREAK

The Green and Blue currently hold a 54-game home win streak in Atlantic Sun action.  The team has won 54 consecutive Atlantic Sun games at Alico Arena since January of 2009 and currently holds an all-time home record of 63-1 in conference play at home since the 2007-08 season. 

SINCE THE LOSS

After compiling a 44-game win streak in regular season Atlantic Sun action that spanned 1,067 days, the Eagles were defeated at Northern Kentucky a month ago.  However, since the loss, the Eagles have produced seven wins by an average margin of 27 points including a 108-67 victory over Lipscomb on Thursday night.  The team has shot 47 percent from the field with a 39 percent clip from 3-point range and has averaged 81.6 points per game since falling in Highland Heights.  The team has also forced 18.1 opponent turnovers, while recording just 10.6 miscues per game and has grabbed 10.7 steals.  FGCU has outrebounded foes in five of those games and has seen Hansen, Haas, Dunson, Cobb and Knight all produce an average of over nine points per game. 

RAINING THREES

Backed by a 3-point shooting mark of 34 percent, the Eagles have made an average of 10 long-range shots per game this season.  The tally ranks the Eagles second among the nation’s 349 times, behind only Sacramento State, who has tallied 12.7 3-pointers a game this season.  Sacramento State is currently on pace to set the NCAA record for 3-point average, previously set by the Eagles in 2012. 

Of the Eagles’ 1,953 points scored this season, 43.7 percent have been scored from distance.

The Green and Blue have a strong history in 3-point shooting, as the Eagles have made 3,318 shots from beyond-the-arc in just 12 years.  The team has also made a 3-pointer in 370 of the team’s 372 games and is currently riding a 258 game streak with at least one shot made from the perimeter.

The Eagles currently hold three NCAA records for 3-point shooting including single game (22 made at ETSU last season), single season (342 made in 2012) and average shots made per game (10.7 in 2012).

Individually, 2012 graduate Kelsey Jacobson sits alone as the A-Sun’s all-time leader in career 3-pointers with 330 made in just three seasons.

SMESKO’S PREPERATION

Smesko’s game preparation is one of the most crucial factors in the Eagles’ all-time success.  This season, the team is 12-2 in games when they have had four or more days to prepare.  In 12 seasons, Smesko holds a record of 106-20 in games with that much time for preparing for a win percentage of 84 percent.

SMESKO’S WARDROBE

The Eagles have scored an average of 94.3 points per game when Smesko wears a tie.  That includes wins over Mercer, Kennesaw State and Lipscomb.

BENCH PRODUCTION

The Eagle reserves have averaged just 16.5 points per game this season.  However, since the beginning of February, the team has increased the bench production to 30 points per game including a season-high 40 points off the bench in the win over Lipscomb on Thursday.

HANSEN’S HEORICS

In her final year as an Eagle, Hansen is ensuring her mark will be left at FGCU.  The senior currently holds 11 all-time program records including the top marks in points, rebounds, steals and games started.  She most recently set the mark for most minutes played by an FGCU player and has currently seen 3,687 minutes on the court for FGCU.  In 126 games, Hansen has averaged 29.4 minutes per game.

Among Atlantic Sun competitors, Hansen now ranks eighth in career points with 1,830 and sits just 62 points from taking over the seventh position.  Hansen also ranks among the top 20 producers in rebounds for the Atlantic Sun.  With 843 boards, Hansen needs sits nine rebounds to take over the 18th position.

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.

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. 

THE HISTORY

Despite just a 12-year presence, the FGCU women’s basketball team boasts a rich history.  Led by 12th-year Head Coach Karl Smesko, the Eagles have produced a program record of 309-63 for a remarkable win percentage of 83 percent.  Smesko has produced ten 20-win seasons since the program’s inception with two seasons that eclipsed the 30-win mark.

After playing for the NCAA Division II National Championship in 2007, the team joined the Division I ranks for the 2007-08 season.  In their first year of Division I play, the Eagles won 29 games for the fourth most in NCAA history, while producing the third-highest winning percentage of a first-year team at 90.6.  After a four-year transition period, the Eagles made the NCAA Tournament in their first year of postseason eligibility.  Since making the transition to DI, the Eagles have compiled a record of 173-42 and have finished atop the Atlantic Sun standings four times. 

UP NEXT

The Eagles will conclude the regular season on Saturday, March 8 in DeLand, Fla. with a matchup against rival Stetson University.  The pivotal contest will determine the final standings of the Atlantic Sun as they teams currently sit tied for first place, each with one loss.

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.