FORT MYERS, Fla. – After a heroic run late in regulation to force overtime, and another one in the extra session, the Stetson women's basketball team fell a mere two points short of defending its Atlantic Sun Conference title on Sunday, falling 72-70 to Florida Gulf Coast at Alico Arena.
“They’re pretty hurt,” Stetson head coach Lynn Bria said. “It was a tough battle. I thought we fought and our defense gave us a chance, but you have to stick the ball in the basket at some point. They just didn’t go in.”
The Hatters (26-7) trailed by six with 1:09 remaining in regulation when Cherisse Burris hit a pair of free throws to pull Stetson to within four. After an Eagles turnover, Burris hit a tough basket after driving the lane to make it a 60-58 game. The Eagles then missed the front end of one-and-one, and the Hatters came back and tied the game on a 13-foot jump shot by Sasha Sims with nine seconds left.
In overtime, the Eagles (26-7) scored eight of the first nine points, putting Stetson in a 68-61 hole. Once again the Hatters chipped away and pulled to within two on a lay-up by Jama Sharp with 14.4 seconds left.
After Amanda Moore hit two free throws for the Eagles, Sharp buried a deep three-pointer with 4.4 seconds left to cut the lead to one, 71-70. FGCU then hit one of two free throws with 3.0 seconds left, and the Hatters' final hail mary shot came up short.
“We never gave up,” Bria said. “We don’t have anything to hang our heads about. It was a great game. It was just a little bit of a better game for them.”
Stetson held a 31-27 lead at halftime thanks to a 10-0 run over the final 5:10 of the frame. Layups by Sharp and Amber Porter, five straight points by C.J. Coddington, and a free throw by Burris turned the momentum in the Hatters’ favor heading into the break.
Junior Myeisha Hall helped the Hatters take control in the first half, scoring 12 points on a perfect 4-of-4 from beyond the arc. The three-point shooting Eagles, meanwhile, were only able to convert on four out of their 17 attempts from long range in the first.
The Hatters scored the first five points of the second half to extend their lead to nine points at 36-27 just 1:45 into the period, but a 26-9 run over the next 10 minutes put FGCU back in front. The Eagles led the rest of the way before Stetson’s 6-0 run sent the game into overtime.
Sims led four Hatters in double figures with 14 points. Sharp added 13 points and a team high eight rebounds, Burris and Hall finished with 12 each. Sharp and Burris were named to the All-Tournament Team.
FGCU’s Jenna Cobb led all scorers with 19 points on 5-of-9 shooting from beyond the arc and was named the Tournament MVP. Sarah Hansen and Kaneisha Atwater were also named to the All-Tournament Team with 13 and 14, respectively. Atwater added a game-high 11 rebounds.
Stetson is headed to postseason play, and will find out Monday night which tournament and what destination.