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Eagles top Harvard, finish non-conference play 13-2

As most students went home for winter break to spend time with family and friends the Florida Gulf Coast University women’s basketball team hit the roads to finish this season’s non-conference play, ending the year with a 13-2 record.

The Eagle’s already had their best record at this point in a season heading into last Friday’s comeback win over Harvard 68-58. This marked the team’s fourth road contest in two weeks and entered the game with an RPI ranking of 15.

FGCU traded the lead 11 times with Harvard before a scoring outburst for the Eagles in the last six minutes of the game that netted them 19 points; the team’s best run of the season. This was the eighth straight win and fourth away from Alico Arena for a hot basketball team heading into conference play.

“It was go time at the point of the timeout,” said Coach Karl Smesko. “Harvard had played well and weren’t shooting the ball particularly well. We needed to make some defensive plays and knock down some shots. Whitney [Knight] and Anthi [Chatzigiakoumi] hit great shots for us and DyTiesha [Dunson] made some really good defensive plays. We are fortunate that in that six and a half minutes we played really well and were able to steal the win.”

The Eagles were able to force 22 Harvard turnovers and capitalized for 25 points off of them. 14 steals and six made free throws in the last minute helped hold off the Crimson despite a low shooting percentage from the field and behind the arc. Whitney Knight, who helped the Eagles seal the deal late with back-to-back 3-pointers, scored 18 points while pulling down a team best 5 rebounds. Kaneisha Atwater led scoring for the Eagles with 19 points en route to her second A-Sun Women’s Player of the Week.

FGCU limited their turnovers to just eight and played tough defense all night to stop the Crimson. Despite being outrebounded and outshot, their defense was enough to slow down Harvard and force their late game-winning run.

As the weekend approaches FGCU prepares to take on Stetson University (11-3) to open Atlantic Sun conference play. The women in green-and-blue are set to defend their title and grab their fifth straight A-Sun regular season championship. The game is part of FGCU’s double header at Alico Arena on Saturday. The women will play at 4pm and the men at 7pm.

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