FORT MYERS, Fla. (Feb. 4, 2010) - The Florida Gulf Coast Eagles put on a shooting clinic Thursday evening, and unfortunately the Lady Bucs fell victim to it.
With first-place in the Atlantic Sun Conference standings hanging in the balance, both ETSU and Florida Gulf Coast were looking to give the fans a great show. However, a school-record 63-percent shooting performance by the Eagles made the conference battle a lop-sided affair, as FGCU cruised to a 92-55 victory, snapping the Lady Bucs' nine-game winning streak inside Alico Arena.
The Lady Bucs were led by senior TaRonda Wiles' (Danville, Va.) 14-point effort, while Siarre Evans (Griffin, Ga.) recorded her 13th double-double of the season - finishing with 12 points and 12 rebounds.
ETSU, who had been defeating its opponents on average of 19 points per game during the nine-game winning streak, suffered its first loss since Jan. 4 and dropped to 13-8, 11-2. Meanwhile, the Eagles continued its home dominance, as FGCU won its 21st straight game inside Alico and improved to 18-4, 13-1. More importantly, the Eagles now sit a game and half ahead of the Lady Bucs in the conference standings.
"I think everyone was expecting this be a closer outcome tonight," commented head coach Karen Kemp. "Florida Gulf Coast came out on fire and we didn't do anything to match it. Karl (Smesko) does a great job getting his team to respond both offensively and defensively, and tonight we had no answer for them. We knew the importance of this game in regards to the conference race, and they (FGCU) wanted it more. Hopefully we can turn things around on Saturday and get back into the win column against Stetson."
For the third straight game ETSU got off to a slow start and the strong offensive attack of the Florida Gulf Coast Eagles took the Lady Bucs out of the game from the get-go.
The Eagles hit four of their first eight shots - including three from beyond the arc - and FGCU led 13-4 after Kelsey Jacobson hit a 3-pointer at the 13:55 mark, forcing ETSU to burn a 30-second timeout. Things continued to go south in a hurry, and 8 minutes, 48 seconds into the game, ETSU found itself down 22-8 after FGCU nailed its fourth trey of the game - making the Lady Bucs call their second timeout of the game when Jacobson connected again from deep with 11:17 left in the half.
ETSU still looked as they never got off plane in Fort Myers in the first half, and the Eagles continued to have their way with the Lady Bucs. Eventually FGCU would push its lead to as many as 28, 51-28, and the Eagles took a 54-27 advantage into the break.
Everything FGCU touched was golden in the first 20 minutes, as the Eagles shot 71-percent (20-28) from the field and 58 percent from beyond the arc (7-12). Meanwhile, ETSU was the exact opposite, shooting 38 percent from the field (12-32) and 1-of-7 from 3-point land (14 percent). ETSU was also out-rebounded 16-12, and the Lady Bucs turned the ball over nine times. The Eagles assisted on 17 of their 20 makes, while turning the ball over seven times.
Things didn't get any better in the second half for the Lady Bucs.
The Eagles quickly extended their lead to 33 in the opening seven minutes of the final stanza when Jacobson's fourth trey made it, 70-37, with 13:15 remaining in the contest. The shooting clinic never fizzled from there, and the Eagles grabbed a 35-point lead, 80-45, with 9 minutes, 19 seconds left in the game.
To add more salt to the wound, Evans fouled out with five minutes, six seconds remaining and the Eagles ahead, 84-55. Eventually the FGCU continued to have fun in the sun and ran away with the 37-point conference victory, marking the Lady Bucs' worst defeat since joining the A-Sun.
For the game, ETSU shot 33.9 percent (21-62) and only made one of its 13 three-point attempts. Meanwhile, Gulf Coast was 35-of-56 and 11-for-23 from beyond the arc, as senior all-conference selection Adrianne McNally led the Eagles with a game-high 21 points. The Eagles finished with 22 assists, while the Lady Bucs turned the ball over 16 times and assisted on ten of their 21 makes.
In total, FGCU had five players score in double figures.
The Lady Bucs wrap up their brief stint in Florida on Saturday afternoon when ETSU takes on Stetson. Tip is set for 3 p.m. inside the Edmunds Center.
For more information on Lady Buccaneer basketball, visit www.ETSUBucs.com.