Florida Gulf Coast wins Island Division championship, Knight named MVP

📁 Uncategorized 🕔30.November 2014
Florida Gulf Coast wins Island Division championship, Knight named MVP

(Recap courtesy FGCU Athletics) Despite a double-overtime loss to Ohio State University, the FGCU women’s basketball team earned the 2014 Paradise Jam Island Division crown Saturday afternoon at the UVI Sports and Fitness Center. The Eagles fell to OSU 90-83 in two overtime periods but earned the tournament title based on point differential. The Green and Blue held a 10-point advantage over Ohio State and Wichita State, who also went 2-1 in tournament play.

With 11 made shots from the perimeter in the first half, the Eagles took a 41-36 lead into halftime. The Buckeyes pressured FGCU heavily outside in the second half and used several brief runs to close the gap. The Buckeyes took the lead on a 3-point shot with 6:42 to go and traded the advantage with the Eagles four times in the remaining minutes before sending the game to overtime with a 70-70 tie. OSU sank 12-of-18 free throws in the two overtime periods, compared to FGCU’s 3-of-10 to edge the Eagles and take the seven-point victory.

With the loss, FGCU moves to 5-2 on the season, while the Buckeyes improve to 4-3.

“I think we had a good trip here,” said head coach Karl Smesko. “We leave with a sour taste in our mouth because we feel like we let one slip away, but we’ll have to learn from it. We’ll be in these situations again and we’ll have to execute better down the stretch. The good thing is we definitely wanted to get our name up there [on the wall of champions] and we’re glad that we did.”

With the Island Division Championship, the Eagles join the likes of Connecticut, Duke, Alabama, Wisconsin, Georgetown and Notre Dame. Previous winners of the Reef Division include Syracuse, Michigan, South Carolina and Rutgers.

Individually, the Eagles were led by junior Whitney Knight (Winston-Salem, N.C./R.J. Reynolds High School) and senior Jenna Cobb (New Holland, Ohio/Miami Trace High School/Butler). The duo each earned a position on the All-Tournament Team with Knight taking MVP honors.

Knight paced the FGCU offense with 17 points on the night including five 3-pointers, with four blocks, while Cobb produced 14 points with a career-high 15 rebounds and four assists. The rebound mark stands as the highest by an Eagle in nonconference play since Andrea Clark’s 17 against Puerto Rico Bayamon in 2004.

Kaneisha Atwater (Fort Pierce, Fla./Fort Pierce Westwood High School/VCU), Anthi Chatzigiakoumi (Athens, Greece/General Senior High School of Kallithea), DyTiesha Dunson (Albany, Ga./Westover High School) and Jaime Gluesing (Solon, Ohio/Solon High School) also added double-figures for the Eagles for the most well-rounded team performance of the season. Atwater had 14 points, while Chatzigiakoumi produced 11. Dunson and Gluesing each added 10 with Dunson leading the team’s passing with eight assists.

As a unit, the Eagles shot 36.8 percent from the field with 16 made shots from the perimeter, while allowing OSU to shoot 46.2 percent. The Buckeyes held the advantage on the boards, 49-42, and from the charity stripe with 25 makes on 36 attempts. The Eagles made 11 from the line on 19 shots for a success rate of 57.9 percent.

The Eagles forced two turnovers on the first OSU possessions to open the contest and quickly took a 4-0 lead with layups from Stephanie Haas (Avon Lake, Ohio/Magnificat High School) and Dunson. OSU scored its first two points from the free-throw line before a power outage delayed play for 15 minutes with the Eagles ahead 4-2 and 18 minutes still left to play.

As play resumed, Knight hit a long-range shot from the top of the arc but the Buckeyes were quick to respond. The teams traded baskets on the next six possessions, but with perimeter shots countering OSU’s layups, the Eagles went ahead 18-8 on a Cobb 3-pointer from the right side.

With a 10-point deficit, OSU hailed for its first timeout of the game at the 13-minute mark.

Following the timeout, OSU constructed a 9-3 run to cut the gap to four points midway through the half, but the Eagles responded with back-to-back 3-pointers from Gluesing and Atwater to push the advantage back to 10.

The Buckeyes continued to capitalize on drives to the rim and used a 12-6 run to cut the Eagle lead to three in the final minutes of the half, but a Gluesing layup as time wound down pushed the Green and Blue back up five.

Despite being outshot 54.8 to 40.5 percent, FGCU went into the break with a 41-36 lead.

Atwater opened the second half with the team’s 12th 3-pointer of the game but the Buckeyes again responded with a drive to the basket. Knight extended the lead to 47-38 with a three from the right side before Cobb added two points from the charity stripe.

However, OSU used a six-point run with three-consecutive drives to the rim to bring the score within five before Cobb could stop the streak with a layup of her own with 15 minutes left to play. A 7-2 run for the Buckeyes cut the FGCU lead to just one point at 53-52 with 11 minutes on the clock but another Atwater long-range shot as the shot clock expired pushed the Eagles ahead again.

The teams traded points midway through the second half but OSU claimed control of the game with two free throws and took its first lead of the contest with a successful 3-point shot from the right corner with 6:46 on the clock.

Chatzigiakoumi drew a foul on the Eagles’ next possession and sank both free throws to reclaim the lead for FGCU but as time wound down, the Buckeye defensive pressure never allowed the Eagles to extend the lead past four points.

OSU took back the lead with a layup at the 3:47 mark before a traditional three-point play from Cobb pushed FGCU ahead 65-63 with fewer than three minutes on the clock. After OSU matched the Eagle’ point total at 65 with another drive to the hoop, Dunson and Atwater combined for four points to put FGCU up 69-65 with 36 seconds to play.

Just ten seconds later, OSU sank its third 3-pointer of the night to bring the score back within one point and outscored FGCU 2-1 from the line in the final 20 seconds to send the bout to overtime at a 70-70 tie.

After one overtime period, the score remained tied at 76-76. Both teams sank 4-of-12 shots from the field through the 10 minutes of extra time with FGCU making two long-range attempts. The difference came from the free-throw line as the Buckeyes went 12-for-18 in the overtime period and the Eagles made just 3-of-10.

The Eagles produced just three points – a perimeter shot from Chatzigiakoumi – in the final minute of action, while sending OSU to the line for seven made free throws. With the shots from the free-throw line, the Buckeyes extended the lead to a game-high nine points and ultimately earned a seven-point win.

Final Island Division standings:

  1. FGCU 2-1
  2. Wichita St. 2-1
  3. Ohio St. 2-1
  4. Clemson 0-3

All Tournament Team

  • MVP – Whitney Knight, FGCU
  • Jenna Cobb, FGCU
  • Nikki  Dixon, Clemson
  • Kelsey Mitchell, Ohio State
  • Alex Harden, Wichita State
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