NCAA WOMAN’S TOURNEY
– FGCU # 5
Special to the Lehigh Acres Gazette
By: Dick Allen Special Correspondent
Photos By: James Schubert Pro Image Sports Photography
There she sat in the middle of the bench, all alone, about 45 minutes before game time. There were no teammates, no coaches, and a nearly empty Mackey Arena. At times her face showed that girlish whimsical smile that has captured the hearts of so many fans. Then that smile turned into that all to famous “Game Face” of hers. Hardened, rather frightening, but mostly a determined stare. One can only wonder what was racing through her mind as she sat there. Was she recalling the day she said yes to Coach Smesko, “I’ll come to FGCU”. Or was it all of the accolades, awards, 4 straight conference titles, the wins over Michigan State and LSU, undefeated season’s, the friendships, and what she fondly refers to as ”My Eagle family, I love them”. Or could it even be her unbelievable achievements in the classroom, a 3.8 GPA in chemistry! Yes, that’s right people, in chemistry.
Or was that stare her recalling the most hurtful two losses that the Eagle women endured during her illustrious career. The first was two years ago, the overtime loss in Tallahassee to #5 seed St. Bonaventure. Don’t forget it was the women who became the first NCAA basketball team to qualify for the big dance. They had what appeared to be an insurmountable 11 point lead, but lost the game in overtime after not being able to get a final shot off in regulation to win. Then there was last year’s Atlantic Sun Championship game. The team came in undefeated and were expected to win and receive the automatic bid to the NCAA Championship Tournament. Eligible for only two years, they were looking forward to making a return visit. However, Stetson had different plans. Overcoming a 15 point FGCU lead, Stetson won the game and the Eagles didn’t dance.
But this is a new day. After all, it is the anniversary to the exact day that last year the 15th seeded Men’s basketball team upset the 2nd seeded Georgetown Hoya’s. “DUNK CITY” was born and had captivated the imagination of the nation’s basketball junkies. The Sweet 16, the ESPY, that single weekend changed FGCU basketball forever. And now, I’ll just bet, that smile of hers is seeing in her mind’s eye – that’s it’s NOW the women’s turn.
Coach Smesko was the next to appear from the locker room. As he past his star player, he simply nodded. # 5, Sarah Hansen put her Game Face on. Let’s dance!
Photos of the game click here