A sluggish second half cost Stetson in its Atlantic Sun Conference opener Saturday night as Florida Gulf Coast posted a 72-56 victory at Alico Arena.
After leading 35-28 at the break, the Hatters (8-5, 0-1 A-Sun) shot just 22% (7-for-32) and only scored 21 points in the second half.
The Eagles (7-6, 1-0), meanwhile, used a 14-0 run early in the second period to grab control of the game.
"For us it was a tale of two halves," Stetson head coach Lynn Bria said. "We stopped scoring and they kept scoring. I was just disappointed with our energy in the second half. (FGCU's) energy was much better."
The Hatters got off to a strong start, using their own 11-0 run to take an early 15-5 lead. Sasha Sims scored seven points during that spurt including hitting a three-pointer from the left wing, one of just two Stetson trifectas on the night.
After seeing the lead reduced to three, the Hatters built the advantage back to seven by halftime as C.J. Coddington and Myeisha Hall each contributed six points off the bench.
The momentum changed hands in the second half as the Eagles benefited from seven offensive rebounds and converted them into 12 second chance points. Whitney Knight scored 15 of her game-high 20 points after the break.
"Rebounding is something we have been talking about all year," Bria said. "We just have to keep working on it. You cannot give a team like FGCU extra shots. When they start to get confidence, they are very hard to stop."
Sims led Stetson with Stetson with 11 points, extending her double figure scoring streak to 20 games. Cherisse Burris added eight points and 10 rebounds.
"I told our players this is not the end-all be-all," Bria said. "We would have loved to win here and start conference play off with a win, but there are a lot of games left. When you put too much of an emphasis on one game, you really get in trouble."
Stetson will return home and face USC Upstate at 6 p.m. Thursday night.