DeLand, Fla. - Stetson held the nation's top three-point shooting team to a 7-31 performance on Saturday at the Edmunds Center, but 24 Hatters turnovers proved too much to overcome in a 59-55 loss to visiting Florida Gulf Coast.
The Hatters fall to 16-5 overall, 7-2 in Atlantic Sun Conference play, with the loss, which snapped a 12-game home win streak. FGCU improved to 17-2 overall, 9-0 in league play with the victory to maintain sole possession of first place in the league race.
Junior guard Shanasa Sanders (Jacksonville, Fla.) led the Hatters with 14 points and eight rebounds in the game.
A low-scoring defensive struggle throughout, Stetson managed to rally from an early 7-2 deficit to go ahead 18-14 with 9:53 left in the first half. Although the Eagles came back to tie the game twice, Stetson never trailed the rest of the half, using an 8-0 spurt to lead 30-22 with 2:14 to play.
Sophomore forward Sasha Sims (Fayetteville, Ga.) knocked down three free throws with 35 seconds to go after being fouled while shooting a three-pointer; that allowed the Hatters to take a 33-28 lead into the locker room.
Sanders was 4-4 from the floor in the first half en route to a game-high 10 points while Sims finished the first 20 minutes with nine points. Sarah Hansen had nine for FGCU.
Stetson extended its lead to seven in the first two minutes of the second half, but that would be as far as the Eagles would let the Hatters go ahead. An 8-0 run gave FGCU its first lead since midway through the first half and set the stage for a tense final 12 minutes.
Eagles guard Courtney Chihil capped a quick 4-0 burst with a layup at the 3:20 mark that put FGCU ahead 51-50; she was then whistled for a foul on the other end of the floor that sent Stetson junior guard Victoria McGowan (Inkster, Mich.) to the line. She drained both to put Stetson ahead 52-51, but that would prove to be the last lead of the day for the Hatters.
With just under two minutes to play, Kelsey Jacobson drained a jumper from the free throw line for a 53-52 Eagles advantage. After an empty Stetson possession, Chihil gave FGCU the all-important two-possession lead with a conventional three-point play.
Although a similar layup-and-free-throw by McGowan on the next possession brought Stetson within one, they could not get another shot off. The Hatters were whistled for five turnovers in the final 2:43, denying them an opportunity at the victory.
Sanders made six of eight field goal attempts for her 14 points, adding a team-high eight rebounds. McGowan and Sims scored 13 points apiece to join her in double figures; the latter chipped in with seven rebounds, three assists and three blocks.
Chihil paced three Eagles in double figures with 15 points, six rebounds and six steals. Eglah Griffin scored 12 points and Jacobson had 10 to bolster her efforts; although she was held scoreless in the second half, Hansen led all players in the game with nine rebounds.
Stetson will look to get back on the winning track at 7:00 pm Thursday when it hosts A-Sun rival Kennesaw State. Live Stats and Hatter Vision will be available at GoHatters.com.
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