FLORIDA GULF COAST
3/22/2014 | Mackey Arena - West Lafayette, Ind. | Attendance: 0
|FLORIDA GULF COAST||28||29||3||60|
|Stats at a Glance||FGCU||OSU|
|3P FG Percentage||.241
WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – The 12th-seeded FGCU women’s basketball team scored just five points over the final 11:38, including overtime, to drop a heartbreaking 61-60 decision to 5th-seeded Oklahoma State in the First Round of the NCAA Tournament on Saturday afternoon at Purdue’s Mackey Arena. The Eagles’ season ends with a record of 26-8, while the Cowgirls advance with a record of 24-8.
Whitney Knight (Winston-Salem, N.C./R.J. Reynolds High School) finished with a double-double of 11 points and 11 rebounds, while adding three assists, three steals and three blocks, while Jenna Cobb (New Holland, Ohio/Miami Trace High School) nearly recorded her first career double-double with 16 points and a season-best nine rebounds. Stephanie Haas (Avon Lake, Ohio/Magnificat High School) added 15 points and six rebounds, and playing in her final collegiate game, Sarah Hansen (McKean, Pa./General McLane High School) posted seven points and nine rebounds.
A 14-4 run midway through the first half created a 10-point lead for FGCU, and the Eagles held a six-point edge, 55-49, following a Knight 3-pointer at the 6:38 mark. FGCU failed to score another point until Kaneisha Atwater (Fort Pierce, Fla./Fort Pierce Westover High School) produced a driving layup with 35 seconds left to tie the game at 57-57 and forced the Eagles’ second-straight overtime contest.
Both teams struggled from the field in overtime, with FGCU’s lone bucket coming from a Cobb baseline 3-pointer to put it up one, 60-59, with 3:14 left. Neither team would score again until Oklahoma State converted an FGCU turnover into a layup at the other end with 40 seconds remaining to provide the winning margin. The Eagles had a chance to potentially win the game, but Cobb’s 3-pointer with 10 seconds remaining from the same spot she had connected from earlier in overtime, just missed.
“This is a very frustrating way to go out,” said head coach Karl Smesko of the loss. “March can be very cruel sometimes. I'm really proud of our team and the way we played, we just didn't finish regulation. We needed to make one more play in overtime to advance. Give Oklahoma State credit they fought and refused to lose.”
“When you're playing a team as good as Oklahoma State, you can't just hope the time runs out,” continued Smesko. “You have to make a play to win the game and I think we got tentative, especially the last four or five minutes. Maybe we were too afraid to make a mistake or be the one to do something wrong. We weren't as aggressive as we probably could have been.”
After trailing by as much as 11 – its largest deficit of the first half – FGCU closed the half on a 19-8 run, fueled largely by Haas. The sophomore took over at the beginning of the run, at one point scoring 10 straight points for the Eagles compared with four for OK State as a team to turn a 20-9 deficit into a 24-21 lead.
Oklahoma State, which received an at-large berth out of the Big 12 Conference, went back up five, 26-21, but a Knight jumper and five straight points from Cobb – a 3-pointer and a pair of free throws – gave the Green and Blue its first lead of the day at the 25-second mark. A late bucket from the Cowgirls knotted the game up at 28-28 heading into the half.
The Eagles managed the tie despite shooting 31 percent (9-29) from the floor and just 20 percent (2-10) from the 3-point line. FGCU was aggressive from the start, forcing three Cowgirl starters into two fouls each in the opening stanza. That created an opportunity for the smaller Eagles – who had just five first-half turnovers – to attack the rim and only finish with a -2 rebound differential, 22-20, in the opening 20 minutes.
FGCU continued the momentum it ended the first half with into the second as it scored the first six points to take a 34-28 lead and forcing Oklahoma State into a timeout. The Cowgirls responded and eventually tied the game up at 36-36 before Atwater started a game-changing run innocently enough with a layup. Consecutive 3-pointers from Knight, Cobb and Knight again expanded the FGCU lead to its largest of the afternoon, 47-40, with 12:22 showing.
The lead eventually swelled to 10, 52-42, with less than 10 minutes remaining before Oklahoma State trimmed it to 52-49 courtesy of a 7-0 spurt in a span of 1 minute and 43 seconds. A Knight 3-pointer at the 6:38 mark put the Eagles back up six, 55-49, but from there the fluid FGCU offense went stagnant.
No. 5 Oklahoma State will move on to face No. 4 Purdue University on Monday, Mar. 24 at 6:30 p.m.
The FGCU women’s basketball team will return all players from the 2013-14 season with the exception of standout senior, Sarah Hansen. Hansen concludes her career with 1,901 points and 887 rebounds. She will graduate as the all-time leader in 12 categories, including points, rebounds, steals and field goals made and ranks seventh among the Atlantic Sun’s all-time point producers.
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.