Iamstrong’s Big Day Leads No.1 FGCU Over No. 8 Kennesaw State in #ASUNWBB Quarterfinal
Senior Joyce Iamstrong (Chicago, Ill./Thornton Fractional South HS/Jefferson College) scored a career-high and game-high 23 points as the No. 1 seeded FGCU women’s basketball team defeated No. 8 Kennesaw State, 73-47, in the quarterfinals held Wednesday afternoon at Hawkins Arena.
“Joyce has definitely played at all all-conference level throughout the season,” said 2013 A-Sun Coach of the Year Karl Smesko. “I thought her four-point play was a big energy-changer, because we were playing with more energy, and Kennesaw expended so much energy to that point, it was tough for them to finish the game. We were able to wear them down the last 10 minutes.”
With its 20th straight victory, FGCU improves to 26-5 overall, while the Owls finish 7-24 on the season. The Blue and Green have now won six straight over the Owls, including three this season.
The top-seeded Eagles now move on to play the winner of No. 4 USC Upstate and No. 5 North Florida on Friday, March 8 at noon.
The Eagles have won 40 consecutive A-Sun games overall (including the conference tournament). FGCU’s 40 consecutive conference overall victories rank as the second longest streak in the country behind defending national champion Baylor (46).
Ranked No. 6 in the latest ESPN Mid-Major poll and receiving votes in the AP Top 25, the Green and Blue forced the Owls into 25 miscues, which led to 23 FGCU points off turnovers. KSU’s 47 points mark the 18th time the Eagles, who led the conference in scoring defense during the regular season (52.5 ppg), have held an opponent to 55 points or fewer this season.
The Eagles, who have made at least one three-pointer in 228 consecutive contests and 340 of 341 games in program history, made eight triples on the day, led by four from Iamstrong.
Iamstrong shot 8-of-15 from the field and 4-of-7 from behind the arc to register 23 points in 28 minutes of action. She also added six rebounds and two steals. Freshman Stephanie Haas (Avon Lake, Ohio/Magnificat HS) chipped in with 14 points and four steals. 2013 A-Sun Player and Scholar-Athlete of the Year Sarah Hansen (McKean, Pa./General McLane HS) finished with 12 points, four boards and three steals, while 2013 A-Sun Defensive Player of the Year Brittany Kennedy (Spokane, Wash./Lewis and Clark HS/Oregon State) recorded six points, six assists, six rebounds and two steals.
KSU opened the game strong, jumping out to a 9-6 lead over FGCU, just 4:27 into the first half. The Eagles responded with a huge 26-12 run, highlighted by nine points from Iamstrong and six from Hansen, to take a 32-21 lead with 3:18 remaining in the first half.
The teams would go scoreless for the next 2:16, until Ashley Holliday knocked down a triple to cut the FGCU lead down to single digits (32-24). Both squads would go scoreless over the final minute and the Green and Blue took 32-24 lead into the locker room at the intermission.
Iamstrong led the Eagles with 11 points and four boards in the first half, while Hansen added six points, two rebounds, two blocks and a pair of steals. FGCU shot 48.1 percent (13-for-27) from the floor, while limiting KSU to 8-of-23 (34.8 percent) from the field. The Eagles knocked down four of their 10 attempts from behind the arc in the first half, while forcing Kennesaw State into 12 miscues in the opening 20 minutes.
KSU opened the second half with a 14-9 scoring spurt, to pull within three points (41-38) with 12:00 left on the clock. The Eagles would hold the Owls scoreless over the next six minutes, outscoring KSU 23-0 during that period, to go ahead 64-38 (5:41). The Eagles used a 32-9 run over the final 12 minutes of the game to en route to the 73-47 A-Sun Quarterfinal victory.
Kennesaw State finished the night with a 34.8 percent shooting percentage (16-of-46). Sametria Gideon led KSU with 21 points and 13 rebounds.
The Eagles, who shot 53.6 percent in the second half, finished the contest with a 50.9 shooting percentage. FGCU, who came into the game ranked second in the nation in three-point field goals made per game (9.2), hit eight triples on 19 attempts (42.1 percent), forced KSU into 25 turnovers, scored 40 points in the paint and tallied 12 assists on 28 made baskets.
The No. 1 seeded Eagles return to the court on Friday, Mar. 8 to face the winner of Thursday’s (Mar. 7) quarterfinal contest between No. 4 USC Upstate and No. 5 UNF in the semifinal round of the 2013 Atlantic Sun Tournament. Tip at Mercer’s Hawkins Arena is set for 12:00 ET and the game can be seen live on Comcast Sports South (CSS) or online at ASun.TV. The game can also be heard live online at FGCUAthletics.com with David Moulton and J. Webb Horton on the call.
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