FGCU women’s basketball earns sixth-consecutive A-Sun title

In an end to the regular season, the FGCU women’s basketball team defeated Kennesaw State in a 22-point win, 63-41.
With the win, the Eagles have earned their sixth-consecutive Atlantic Sun regular season title, with a 12-0 record.
Senior night turned out to be quite the commodity for the girls. Senior Whitney Knight was dynamic across the board.  Not only did she have another double-double with 20-plus points and 11 rebounds, Knight now claims the A-Sun record in blocks with a total of 291.
“Blocking shots is one of the most enjoyable parts of the game,” Knights said.  “So, I do think it’s a pretty big achievement.
In addition to her blocking, Knight jumped to second place on the FGCU all-time scoring list with 1,419 points.
Knight wasn’t the only standout Eagle today. Taylor Gradinjan put up 14 points, with 12 of those coming off of three pointers. Senior Kaneisha Atwater also scored double-digit points with 10.
However, the work of Katie Meador cannot go unnoticed. Meador was in the paint battling against KSU’s bigger players such as No. 45 Jasmine Mcallister and No. 10, Tayler Smith. These girls were pushing and shoving in the paint but were held to a combined 6 rebounds and 10 points. Meador had 11 rebounds herself, along with 9 points.
In the first quarter, KSU was able to keep up. KSU’s defense held the Eagles to a 0-for-10 scoring drought.  FGCU didn’t score its first point until the seven-minute mark on a free throw by DyTeisha Dunson.
KSU’s defense also caused three turnovers in 5 minutes. KSU saw contribution from a number of its players. Kelli Dulkoski had nine points, Allison Johnson had nine points, and Jasmine Mcallisterhad eight points. Even though the Owls were trailing at halftime, they shot almost 10-percent better than FGCU from the field and the free-throw line.
FGCU came alive for the home crowd in the second half. FGCU went from shooting 26.7 percent from the field to 52 percent. FGCU shot 100 percent from the free-throw line. On paper, FGCU was better than KSU in almost every category. FGCU had five more steals, seven less turnovers, six more rebounds and five more assists.
The game took a complete 180-degree turn in the second half. KSU was only able to hold onto a lead of 10 for three minutes and eight seconds. FGCU was able to surmount the deficit and accumulate a 25-point lead and held that for nearly two minutes. The end result was a 22-point victory for FGCU.
“Our defense picked up,” Atwater said  “We pushed it a little more in the fourth quarter.  Our defense was what sparked our offense.”
Head coach Karl Smesko had some input for his game plan heading into that game.
“They are a much different team than the one we played earlier.” Smesko said.  “They’re a team that is very difficult to guard because they space things out. They have a lot of good shooters. That is always difficult to guard.  We’re really going to have to be focused on the defensive end.”
FGCU’s next test is at Lipscomb on Monday. Lipscomb will have their two best players back with the return of Ashley Southern and Alex Banks.
FGCU will be put to the test defensively, as it deals with a new double threat Lipscomb team.