KENNESAW, Ga. -- Freshman Chelsea Mason recorded her first career double-double with 13 points and 11 rebounds, but the first year player's efforts weren't enough as the Kennesaw State women's basketball team fell to Florida Gulf Coast University, 62-35, in what was the Atlantic Sun Conference opener for both squads.
KSU, now 4-9 on the year and 0-1 in the A-Sun standings, came back strong in the opening minutes after allowing the Eagles to run out to a 6-0 lead. Mason (Bellevue, Neb./Bellevue West HS) cut the deficit down to just two points after scoring four straight before the Owls took their only lead of the game on a Bria Young (Suwanee, Ga./Collins Hill HS) three-pointer to put the score at 10-9 with 11:21 to go in the first.
FGCU then extended its lead to nine points with a 9-1 run before back-to-back triples from Nicole Adams (New Port Richey, Fla./Gulf HS) and Ashley Holliday (Greenville, S.C./ J.L. Mann Academy) brought the Eagle lead back down to four. The visitors then put in the last basket of the half to send the game into the break, 25-18.
The second half started off with FGCU extending its lead to 10 points right off the bat on a made three-pointer to move the score to 28-18. Sametria Gideon (Madison, Ala./Bob Jones HS) cut it down to single digits for the final time in the ballgame with a layup at the 18:56 mark before the Eagles took off to the 62-35 victory, holding the Owls to just 17 second half points.
"In the first half we did some things to compete well," said Kennesaw State head coach Nitra Perry. "We didn't play our best basketball, but we were still in the game. In the second half we just didn't play fundamental basketball, jumping to the ball, blocking out and contesting shots. When you don't do those things you see a game like that. I'm very disappointed in our second half effort today."
The Owls did hold the league's leading scorer in Sarah Hansen to just 13 points while outrebounding the Eagles, 32-29, with 23 of those rebounds coming on the defensive end, allowing FGCU to just seven second chance points.
"I talked to them in the huddle after the game about being fearless," added Perry. "And what you saw out there is not what we wanted. We need to be fearless of everyone and compete with everybody no matter who is on the other end of the court. That's my vision for this program and what I want this team to be."
Mason's 13 point effort was tops for the Owls as she also added a steal and an assists to her career-high 11 rebounds.
"My shot wasn't quite where I wanted it to be today and I know my team depends on me to score," said Mason of her effort. "I feel really disappointed that we lost this battle on our home court. Next game we will make sure we never lose on our home court like this again. We're going to take this game as a lesson to never quit and never feel this way again."
Gideon ended the night with six points, going 3-of-4 from the field, as did Adams who connected on a pair of three pointers. Kristina Wells (Douglasville, Ga./Douglas County HS) aided in the effort with a game-high three assists to go with her six rebounds.
The Owls will have a short time to think about the loss before returning to action this Wednesday, Jan. 2, at 2:30 p.m. as the black and gold host the Hatters of Stetson.