Forty minutes. That is all that separates Stetson from its first Atlantic Sun regular season championship and earning home court advantage throughout the conference tournament.
And 40 minutes of effort is what the Stetson women's basketball team believes it is going to take to accomplish that feat.
"We need to come out, leave it all on the court, and play as hard we can for 40 minutes," junior C.J. Coddington said. "We have to play a complete game."
Stetson (24-5, 16-1 A-Sun) and Florida Gulf Coast (22-7, 16-1) have been deadlocked atop the league standings for much of the regular season. Saturday at the Edmunds Center, the two teams will get a chance to play for the regular season title and the the all-important number one seed for the A-Sun tournament. Tiip-off is scheduled for 1 p.m. with live coverage on HatterVision and WSBB.
Stetson head coach Lynn Bria said it is vital for the Hatters to give 40 minutes of effort, both physically and mentally.
"A lot of times I think we have the physical effort, but the question with this team sometimes is with our mental effort," Bria said. "We tend to have some lapses. We have to sustain the game and execute at a high level for the entire game. Even though we have beaten some teams and won a lot of games, we really have not done that all year. In a game like this where (FGCU is) very balanced, you have to do that."
When the Hatters faced the Eagles on Jan. 4 in Fort Myers, Stetson used a strong first half to carry a seven-point lead into halftime. The intensity level waned in the second half, and the Eagles were able to rally for the victory.
"I think in the second half we came out a little sluggish, and it allowed them to get their momentum going," Coddington said. "We stopped what we were doing. We have to keep playing with the same momentum in the second half (Saturday)."
Steson has not slowed down since, winning a school-record 16 games in a row overall and 15 straight games at home. The Hatters have already assured themselves a home game for the A-Sun tournament quarterfinals next Tuesday, but a win Saturday would lock up home games for the conference semifinals and championship next weekend.
"It's big when you get to play at home in front of all your fans, it's a huge advantage," junior Jama Sharp said. "You take this game as the biggest game of the year, but then you have to move on. We have a quick turnaround to get ready for the A-Sun tournament. Every game is big, and we just have to get ready to play no matter what."
Bria echoed those sentiments.
"No matter what happens in the game, the work is just getting started. It's not over for anybody. We definitely know that. It would be great to win this game, keep the streak alive, host the tournament, and be regular season champs, but regardless of that, there is still a lot of work to do. You still have to play a lot more games to get where you want to go."
Tickets start at just $5 and can be purchased at the Edmunds Center ticket office or online at GoHatters.com/tix. Students, faculty and staff are admitted free with a valid ID.
In addition to HatterVision and WSBB broadcasts, in-game updates will also be available via live stats, twitter (@StetsonWBB), and the Hat-Alerts text messaging system.