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Lady Bisons will be tested at FGCU

Tuesday, January 04, 2011

Florida Gulf Coast was expected to be in first place in the Atlantic Sun at this point in the season, but the Lipscomb Lady Bisons were not expected to be tied with them.

Wednesday night at 4:15 at Alico Arena in Fort Myers, Fla., both teams will put their 3-0 conference records on the line. Florida Gulf Coast is 10-0 overall and ranked third in CollegeInsider.com Women’s Mid-Major Top 25 poll. The Lady Bisons are 6-6 overall.

Florida Gulf Coast rolled 79-39 over Belmont Monday night. The Lady Bisons beat Stetson 73-72 in overtime.

“Florida Gulf Coast is obviously the favorite in the conference by a pretty good margin,” Lady Bisons coach Frank Bennett said. “We will see how we stack up with them.”

Senior point guard Jenna Bartsokas scored 26 points; two points shy of her career high, in the win over Stetson. It was the fourth time this season she has scored 20 or more points.

“Jenna played like a senior all-conference guard should play,” Bennett said. “Her play all-around was outstanding. She took care of the ball. They were very physical against her but she didn’t let that rattle her.

“She shot the ball from 3-point range very well. She penetrated inside and made plays.”

Bartsokas played 39 of 45 minutes and guard Anna Bowers played 38 while scoring 17 points.

“We are asking a lot of both of them,” Bennett said. “I know they were tired at times, but they fought their way through.”

Freshman center Jess Reece made her first start of the season, but struggled early with a couple of quick fouls against Stetson. When she re-entered the game she once again was in foul trouble.

She finally settled down her next time out and scored eight points, tied for the team rebound lead with six, made two assists and blocked two shots.

“She wasn’t playing very strong or effective early, but the last time she came in she had a really strong stretch,” Bennett said. “She was scoring. She made a couple of nice kick outs for 3-pointers. She blocked a shot or two. And she got some rebounds.”

The Lady Bisons also got some timely help from Hannah Phillips who came off the bench to score 12 points, nine on 3-point shots. She hit the free throw in overtime that proved to be the game-winning point against Stetson. She also added six rebounds, two steals and two assists.

“One of the keys for us is where do we get the third, fourth and fifth sources of points,” Bennett said. “Jess provided some of that against Stetson.

“So did Hannah. She came up big against Stetson. Billy Snell (assistant coach) has worked a lot with her on her footwork, her shooting stroke and follow-through. Being consistent with her footwork, her snap and follow-through makes all the difference in the world for her.”

The Lady Bisons six wins equal their total for the entire 2008-2009 season and surpasses last season’s five wins.

The three conference wins equal the total for both 2009-2010 and 2008-2009.

It was the first A-Sun road win for the Lady Bisons since beating Belmont 76-66 Jan. 12, 2009.

“We have had a lot of milestones already this season,” Bennett said. “A lot of our games have been very close. We have had to battle and find a way to win. That is going to be the way it is the rest of the way with a lot of close and hard-fought games.”

Beating Florida Gulf Coast on the road would be another milestone, but Bennett knows his Lady Bisons are going to be facing a big challenge.

“Florida Gulf Coast will run four or five guards,” Bennett said. “They have a lot of players with perimeter skills as 3-point shooters.

“They are quick. They don’t have a lot of size. But almost everyone on the roster is a high percentage 3-point shooter. They look for lay-ups, threes and fouls off of drives. Hopefully, we can slow them down and get some quality shots ourselves.”

Bartsokas is third in the conference overall in scoring with 15.3 points per game. Bowers is sixth with 14.5 points per game.

Florida Gulf Coast is led by Kelsey Jacobson with 13.3 points per games, 11th in the conference. Shannon Murphy averages 12.4 points, 14th in the conference.

Jacobson leads the conference overall in 3-point field goals per game with 3.30. Bowers is close behind in second with 3.25.

Written by Mark McGee, Senior Publisher/Director of Media Relations.