Thursday, July 07, 2011
MACON, Ga. – In June 2010, the Atlantic Sun was one of two conferences awarded funds as part of the NCAA Division I Women’s Basketball Grant Program to increase awareness, exposure and attendance of women’s basketball. After the completion of the 2010-11 season, it is clear that the A-Sun was successful in the program as eight institutions raised their average attendance compared to the previous year.
As a whole, the A-Sun raised attendance by 15.78 percent from 925 fans per game last season to 1,071, who entered the A-Sun arenas during the 2010-11 season. Stetson led the charge in percentage with an 88.85 percent increase, while four others all saw improvements of near 35 percent; FGCU (64.50), Belmont (54.23), Campbell (39.73) and Kennesaw State (34.95).
The increase of fans in the stands led to better results on the court as the conference’s home non-conference win total improved by 28.57 percent with seven teams equaling or increasing their wins from the previous season. The Eagles led the way with an 8-1 home non-conference record, while six others registered at least two wins including Jacksonville (4), Stetson (4), Kennesaw State (2), Lipscomb (2), UNF (2) and USC Upstate (2). On four occasions, A-Sun teams claimed wins against teams from BCS Conferences as the Dolphins defeated Wake Forest and FGCU earning a trio of victories against Indiana, Virginia Tech and Seton Hall.
Along with winning its second A-Sun Regular Season title, FGCU added the A-Sun “Pack the House” trophy to its mantle after hosting a program regular-season record 2,921 fans in a contest against ETSU. In its final contest of the season, FGCU set the Alico Arena record as 4,543 spectators viewed the WNIT Second Round game against Florida. The Blue and Green finished the season with 28 wins – the second most in league history – and reached as high as No. 2 in the CollegeInsider.com Women’s Basketball Mid-Major Top-25 Poll. The Eagles also advanced to the WNIT for the fourth time in as many years, earning postseason berths in each of their years as a reclassifying school.
Stetson posted the second-largest crowd in Edmunds Center women’s basketball history when 1,876 fans took in the Hatters showdown with Georgia Southern. The Hatters would go on to win the A-Sun Championship for the third time in program history, helped by a Victoria McGowan miracle shot from 60-feet as time expired to defeat Belmont in the semifinals.
ETSU previously received the women’s basketball grant on two occasions and continued to lead the conference in attendance with an average of 2,671 fans piling into ETSU/MSHA Athletic Center throughout the season to watch the Lady Bucs finish with 19 victories and their sixth-straight winning season since joining the A-Sun.
Playing in the renovated G.B. Hodge Center, USC Upstate posted an 11-2 home record and followed up a 20-win season in 2009-10 (the first in the Division I era) with 17 wins overall to earn the university’s first-ever bid to a postseason national tournament, the Women’s Basketball Invitational, where the Spartans faced Elon.
Six of the 11 women’s basketball squads placed at least 50 percent of their team on the A-Sun All-Academic list with FGCU leading the way at 76.9 percent. Lipscomb’s senior guard and second team all-conference member, Jenna Bartsokas earned several honors including the A-Sun Student-Athlete of the Year, the A-Sun Post-Graduate Scholarship, a NCAA Post-Graduate Scholarship as well as being nominated for the NCAA Woman of the Year.