February 19, 2015

KENNESAW, Ga. (AP) Whitney Knight scored 15 points, Stephanie Haas added 14 and Florida Gulf Coast celebrated its first game ever as a Top 25 team with its 19th straight win, 71-60 over Kennesaw State on Thursday.

The Eagles (24-2, 11-0) clinched their fifth-straight league Atlantic Sun title and home court advantage throughout the league tournament with their 20th straight conference win.

Katie Meador added 11 points and DyTiesha Dunson 10 for the Eagles, who have won six league titles in the last seven years under coach Karl Smesko, who now has 399 career wins.

Kristina Wells had 15 of her 19 points in the second half for the Owls (16-10, 5-6), and grabbed 12 rebounds. Jasmine McAllister added 12 points and Deandrea Sawyers 11.

The Eagles shot 55.2 percent (16-29) while holding the Owls to 37 percent (10-27) before intermission. FGCU cooled off in the second half (33 percent), finishing at 46 percent, but so did Kennesaw State (26 percent), which finished at 32 percent.

Neffie Lockley's layup pulled Kennesaw within 24-20 with 6:40 to play in the first half but Dunson quickly responded with a three-point splay to spark a 10-2 run. Knight knocked down a 3-pointer, Dunson scored again and Kaneisha Atwater ended the surge with a three-point play that made it 35-22 at the 3:44 mark.

After an Owls' basket, Knight and Dunsun sandwiched 3-pointers around a Hass layup for a 43-34 lead before Kennesaw scored the last five to make it 43-29 at the break.

Any chance Kennesaw had to get back in the game disappeared after the Owls hit a cold spot that lasted more than five minutes. FGCU scored six quick points to push the lead to 21 then cooled off before Katie Meador's bucket at 12:58 to make it 56-33 for the Eagles.

Behind Wells, Kennesaw scored nine straight points then turned that into a 14-2 run to get within 58-47 at 7:59. Wells had 11 points in that span, but the Owls could get no closer than eight down the stretch.

Wells had a tough game from the field, going 2 for 11, but made 15 of 16 free throws.

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TIP INS

Florida Gulf Coast: The Eagles shoot 35.7 behind the arc but were just 5 for 19 (26.3 percent). ... FGCU was also off from the foul line, making 64.5 percent (20 of 31).

Kennesaw State: The Owls won the battle of the boards 38-32 and made 26 of 34 free throws but were just 2 of 14 behind the arc (14.3 percent), which contributed to their 32 percent shooting. They also had 20 turnovers.

UP NEXT

Florida Gulf Coast is at South Carolina Upstate on Saturday afternoon.

Kennesaw State is home against Stetson on Saturday.

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