3/11/2014 | Alico Arena (Fort Myers, Fla.) | Attendance: 1279
|Stats at a Glance||LIP||FGCU|
|3P FG Percentage||.222
FORT MYERS, Fla. – The top-seeded FGCU women’s basketball team defeated no. 8 Lipscomb University 92-53 Tuesday night at Alico Arena. With the hearty victory, the Eagles advance to the Atlantic Sun Championship Semifinal where they will face no.5 Mercer on Saturday at 1 p.m.
The 39-point victory sets a new mark as the largest margin of victory in an Atlantic Sun Championship game. The Green and Blue move to 24-7 on the season, while the Bisons’ season ends at 6-24.
The Eagles held Lipscomb to just 10 points in the first half, the fewest any Division I opponent has scored against the Eagles. With a season-high 10 blocks and eight steals, the FGCU defense held Lipscomb to 8.8 percent from the field in the first half and 28 percent overall. Led by a well-rounded performance that included five double-figure scorers, the Eagles extended the lead to a game-high 47 points in the second half and ultimately earned a 39-point win.
“I thought we took control of the game in the first half right from the start,” said head coach Karl Smesko of the team’s play. “We communicated well, we didn’t give up anything in transition and we didn’t give their shooters a lot of space. We executed pretty well and we played good defense. Lipscomb is a good shooting team and they missed some shots that they would normally make. That combination led to us having a large lead at halftime and put us in a comfortable situation so that we could rest some players in the second half.”
Individually, recently named Atlantic Sun Player of the Year Sarah Hansen (McKean, Pa./General McLane High School) paced the Eagles with 18 points, while sophomores Stephanie Haas (Avon Lake, Ohio/Magnificat High School) and Amanda Moore (Seymour, Ind./Seymour High School) each added 17 points for FGCU. The point total sets a new career high for Moore, who sank 5-of-7 shots from the perimeter.
Whitney Knight (Winston-Salem, N.C./R.J. Reynolds High School) and Kaneisha Atwater (Fort Pierce, Fla./Fort Pierce Westwood High School/VCU) produced 11 and 10 points, respectively for FGCU with Knight adding four blocks on the night.
Collectively, the Eagles converted 53.2 percent of shots from the field with a 54.8 success rate from 3-point range. FGCU made 14 shots from beyond-the-arc to set a new A-Sun Tournament record, while pulling down 46 rebounds. The Bisons shot 28 percent overall and 22.2 percent from distance. Lipscomb grabbed 40 rebounds and turned the ball over 16 times.
After allowing the Bisons to score the first basket of the game, the Eagles produced a 23-1 run over a span of 12 minutes, while holding the Bisons to just 1-of-20 from the field.
Lipscomb added points late in the first half but the Eagles were quick to respond to each attack. Another 17-point run increased the Eagle lead to 43-7 with one minute to play in the first half. The Bisons added a 3-pointer from the left side to bring their total to 10 points in the final minute before the Eagles added three more points.
At the break, the Eagles held a 46-10 advantage with a 47.2 to 8.8 shooting percentage edge.
The second stanza opened with two FGCU free throws and three-consecutive long-range shots from Knight to increase the lead. Just three minutes into the half, FGCU grew the score difference to a game-high 47 points.
Lipscomb battled back and produced a 15-3 run to cut the deficit midway through the half but could never bring their score within 33 points. The Eagles sank eight 3-pointers in the second half and produced a shooting percentage of 61.5 en route to a 92-53 victory.
With the win the Eagles’ all-time Atlantic Sun Championship record moves to 6-1. The Green and Blue will continue championship action on Saturday, March 15 as they host no. 5 Mercer in the A-Sun Semifinal at 1 p.m. The Eagles defeated Mercer by a combined 54 points in the regular season, including a 99-57 victory over the Bears at Alico Arena. No. 2 Stetson and no. 3 USC Upstate will battle in the 3 p.m. semifinal game at Alico Arena before the winners of each game meet in Sunday’s 3 p.m. Championship Final.
Tickets for all three games 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.
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