It felt like deja vu inside Alico Arena on Tuesday night as the Florida Gulf Coast University’s women’s basketball team rolled over the Lipscomb University Bisons for the second time in three weeks. Last time it was a 108-57 victory, and this time it wasn’t much different. It was a dominant effort from the Eagles as they were looking to set the tone for the remainder of the Atlantic Sun Tournament right from the opening tip. While they weren’t quite able to eclipse the century mark this time, the Eagles cruised to an easy 92-53 win.
It was all FGCU from the start, as Lipscomb’s only lead of the game was the 2-0 advantage that they had in the opening seconds of the first half.
“I thought we took control of the game in the first half. Right from the start we played pretty good defense,” said head coach Karl Smesko.
The Eagles were able to hold the Bisons to just three baskets the entire first half, and limited Lipscomb to a measly 8.8 percent from the field in the first 20 minutes. If that’s only pretty good defense, according to Smesko, who knows where great defense will land the Eagles in March. Atlantic Sun Player of the Year Sarah Hansen scored 16 of her game-high 18 points in the first half shooting six of nine. FGCU surprisingly only outscored Lipscomb by three points in the second half after besting the Bisons by an astounding 36 points in the first 20 minutes.
“The combination of us playing defense and Lipscomb missing shots that they’d usually make left us a large lead at halftime,” Smesko said.
The Eagles lived up to their No. 1 seed in the 39-point win, recording 10 blocks to run the season total up to 135, a new single-season FGCU record. Amanda Moore continued to contribute in a big way, besting her previous career high with 17 points off the bench. Moore shot five of seven from long range and caught fire in the second half, making four of her five three-pointers in the final 20 minutes. Steph Haas continued to show why she’s such an integral part of this team, following up her 16-point performance against Stetson with 17 more points Tuesday night. Haas knocked down two clutch free throws Saturday against the Hatters with 0.2 seconds left on the clock, clinching the A-Sun title and the No. 1 seed in the tournament for the Eagles.
“Our championship up at Stetson is just the definition of what she’s (Haas) done for us,” Hansen said.
Haas has seen a steady progression throughout her two years at FGCU, and said that she believes she’s playing the best basketball of her career.
“[Steph] is invaluable — you can’t really say how much she means to the team because we would be a completely different team without her,” Hansen added.
The Eagles will now move on to face the Mercer Bears in the Atlantic Sun semifinal at 1 p.m. Saturday at Alico Arena. FGCU swept the season series against Mercer with a 69-57 win in Macon and a 99-57 win at Alico Arena. The Eagles will host the remainder of the tournament at Alico Arena if they win Saturday, and they will meet the winner of Saturday’s USC Upstate and Stetson semifinal in the final on Sunday, provided they can beat the Bears for the third time this season.