Fort Myers, Fla. - Despite double-doubles from sophomore point guard Victoria McGowan (Inkster, Mich.) and senior center Natasha Graboski (Upper Sandusky, Ohio) and a tremendous effort all evening in one of the most difficult road venues in the nation, the Stetson women's basketball team (15-12, 11-7 Atlantic Sun) was not able to get the one last defensive stop it needed to end the now 36-game home winning streak of host Florida Gulf Coast (22-2, 15-2 A-Sun) Monday at Alico Arena, falling 64-59.
Down by six with 10:39 remaining in the game, McGowan led the Hatters on a 10-0 run with eight points and an assist to take a 50-46 lead two minutes later. Eagles guard Nicoya Jackson would then spearhead a 12-2 run to re-establish its six-point lead with 3:08 to play.
Freshman forward Sasha Sims (Fayetteville, Ga.) hit a three-pointer on the ensuing Stetson possession; a few defensive stops later it was Graboski dropping in a bucket off a pass from sophomore guard/forward Simone Taylor (Delray Beach, Fla.) to put Stetson back in the lead 59-58 with 1:06 to go.
FGCU would prove why winning in Alico Arena has been an impossible task for any visiting team in the last two seasons, however, as the Eagles quickly pushed the ball upcourt and into the hands of Kelsey Jacobson, who buried a three with one minute left that gave the home team a 61-59 edge. FGCU forced a Hatter turnover and kept Stetson at bay with free throws to take the 64-59 win; its 36-game home winning streak is the third-longest active streak in the nation behind only Connecticut and Stanford.
Stetson led 31-30 at halftime of a game that was closely contested throughout with tight defense; the Hatters were held under 60 points for the first time since January 5 against Belmont, snapping a 13-game high-scoring run.
McGowan finished with 19 points, a career high-tying 12 rebounds and four assists to lead the Hatters; Graboski notched a 14-point, 10-rebound double-double of her own. Sims scored eight points and pulled down a career-high 10 rebounds while Taylor also set a career high with six assists.
Shannon Murphy scored 17 points to pace FGCU to the win; Jackson scored 13 points and grabbed seven rebounds while Courtney Chihil added eight points and a team-high 11 rebounds.
Stetson will host UNF in the Pink Zone/Pack the House Night at the Edmunds Center Thursday at 5 p.m. The Hatters will attempt to set a program and conference attendance record; Live Stats and Hatter Vision are available online at GoHatters.com. Stetson can cinch the #2 seed in the upcoming General Shale Brick Atlantic Sun Conference Championships with a win over the Ospreys.