Eagles extend conference home win streak to 53 games
The Florida Gulf Coast University women’s basketball team continued its upward swing this weekend with two critical Atlantic Sun wins, stretching its home conference winning streak to 53 games. The Eagles almost broke the century mark on Thursday against Mercer with a dominant 99-57 win in which four players went for double figures.
DyTiesha Dunson led the way with 23 points, the best mark of her collegiate career. Sarah Hansen had her third double-double of the season, chipping in 18 points and 10 rebounds. Whitney Knight and Stephanie Haas also both added 18 points each in the offensive explosion.
“This was definitely one of our best performances, especially offensively,” FGCU women’s basketball head coach Karl Smesko said. “We got on a roll and a lot of people were contributing. It was a really great team effort.”
FGCU kept it rolling two days later in front of the largest crowd of the season, notching a dominant 34-point win over Kennesaw State University. FGCU held the Owls to just 13 points in the first half with a stellar defensive effort and finished on top with a final score of 76-42. On Saturday, it was Jenna Cobb who broke out offensively with 23 points, surpassing her previous career high of 21, which she had when she was a sophomore at Butler.
Cobb was 3-4 from behind the arc and said, “I’ve been working on [my three-pointers] all year with coach and it was good to see tonight, to see the work actually paying off.”
Two other Eagles scored in double figures as well, with Hansen at 12 points and Haas adding 11 of her own.
After the weekend’s breakout performances, Hansen said, “We’ve always had a team full of people who can knock down shots, who can get to the hoop, who can make the plays.”
Hansen continues to climb on the Atlantic Sun career leaderboards, approaching 10th all-time in scoring and 20th in rebounding.
When asked how it feels to see her name amongst the best players the A-Sun has ever seen, Hansen said, “It just goes to show a lot of the people that I’ve played with, I’ve played with some amazing teammates here. I think it speaks volumes for our program.”
That selfless approach is something that shows Hansen’s leadership ability and echoes coach Smesko’s focus on the importance of playing together and playing as a team. Hansen didn’t stop there though. She went on to joke, “I’m just a 5-8 white girl who can’t jump, I’m not real quick, but I have teammates who help me play to the best of my ability.”
The Eagles currently remain tied for the A-Sun lead with Stetson University at 12-1 in the conference. The Eagles and the Hatters both have identical schedules down the stretch, with two away games this weekend followed by two home games the weekend after. Both teams are headed up to Jacksonville this weekend, facing off against Jacksonville University and University of North Florida. The following weekend both teams host Lipscomb University and Northern Kentucky University, giving FGCU a chance to avenge its first conference loss in almost three years. The Eagles beat Jacksonville and North Florida handily earlier in the year. FGCU had their best defensive effort of the year when they held UNF to just 34 points on Jan. 25, two days after a 56-49 victory over JU. The matchup between the Hatters and the Eagles in DeLand on March 8 will determine the top seed for the Atlantic Sun Tournament should both teams win their next four games.
The Eagles seem to be playing their best basketball of the year coming down the stretch, so it should be interesting to see how the next couple of weeks unfold.
Redshirt junior Jenna Cobb makes a layup in the Eagles’ win over Kennesaw State, 76-42. Cobb recorded a career-high 23 points and had three steals that night.
EN Photo/Tessa Mortensen