The much-anticipated match-up has finally arrived.
Sole possession of first place in the Atlantic Sun Conference will be on the line Saturday night when the Stetson Hatters travel south to Fort Myers to take on the Florida Gulf Coast Eagles. Tip-off is set for 7:05 pm from Alico Arena. The game will be broadcast live on ASun.TV, as well as on WSBB 1230 AM New Smyrna Beach, 1490 AM DeLand, and on myam1230.com.
In what may very well likely be the first-ever meeting between two 8-0 teams in conference history, Stetson will carry a 15-4 overall record and a school-record 11-game winning streak into the contest with the Eagles. The Hatters are coming off a 62-39 victory over Northern Kentucky Monday night at the Edmunds Center. Victoria McGowan (16 points), Sasha Sims (13), and Jama Sharp (11) all scored in double figures, while Cherisse Burris pulled down 12 rebounds. The victory also marked Stetson’s 14th straight win at home.
FGCU (15-5) is also streaking, having won nine in a row overall and 26 consecutive conference games dating back to the start of the 2011-12 season. The Hatters know they will have to be at the top of their game come Saturday night.
"They are a good team, and they play very well at home," Stetson head coach Lynn Bria said. "You've have to play a complete game when you go down there; you have to be very good offensively and defensively. Our team has had to come through some adversity, and I think that's a good thing to have gone through before you have to go down there and play. I like our defense right now."
Stetson's defense has been brilliant during the 11-game winning streak. No opponent has shot over 40% from the floor or scored over 66 points over the last 11 games. The Eagles, however, are averaging 68.4 points per game and shooting 41.6% for the season.
"Defensively we need to be very, very good, we need to communicate well and get back in transition," McGowan said. "I think rebounding will also be very important in this game."
Saturday's meeting will be the first of two regular season meetings between the Hatters and Eagles, who will also meet on Feb. 23 at the Edmunds Center. The teams could possibly meet for a third time in the A-Sun tournament, as they did in last year's championship game.
"It's going to be great for our conference to have two teams (playing) who are undefeated in the league, and I think it's great for our game," Bria said. "We've just have to continue to get better and to keep playing defense. I have to keep emphasizing the rebounding because it is getting better and better every game and I think that's a big key to our success no matter who we play."