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FORT MYERS, Fla. – Kaneisha Atwater scored a game-high 25 points to lead the top-seeded FGCU Eagles to their fifth-straight Atlantic Sun Women's Basketball Championship Final with a 61-46 victory over No. 4 Stetson. The Eagles will host No. 2 Jacksonville on Sunday, March 13th with an NCAA automatic berth on the line.
Atwater recorded her second double-double of the year adding 14 rebounds to her point total, while A-Sun Scholar-Athlete of the Year Stephanie Haas contributed 15 points in the Eagles' victory. Stetson's Sarah Sagerer scored a season-high 19 points for the Hatters.
In a game dominated by defense in the early going, Stetson took a 12-11 lead after the first quarter thanks to Sagerer's six points off the bench. The game remained close throughout the remainder of the first half as the Eagles and Hatters combined for only one three-pointer in the opening 20 minutes. At halftime, FGCU took a 23-21 lead thanks to 16 combined points from Atwater and Haas.
Haas ignited a 7-0 run to start the second half as the Eagles pushed their lead to 30-21, but the Hatters responded with a run of their own as Sagerer scored 12 points in the third quarter. With the game tied 37-37, Sagerer and DeAsia Beal scored back-to-back layups to give the Hatters a 41-40 lead heading into the fourth.
FGCU's defense, which ranks second in the NCAA coming into tonight's game, clamped down in the fourth quarter as FGCU outscored Stetson 21-5 to close out the game. Whitney Knight, the 2016 A-Sun Player of the Year, fouled out with 4:32 to go in the contest, after scoring seven points and grabbing 10 rebounds. Atwater took over scoring nine of FGCU's final 12 points to secure the semifinal win.
The Eagles improve to 28-4 on the season and will play in their fifth-straight A-Sun Championship Final on Sunday when they welcome No. 2 Jacksonville to Alico Arena. The last time these two teams faced off, FGCU needed overtime to collect the win on the road. The game will be broadcast live on ESPN3 with tip scheduled for 2 p.m.
FGCU vs. Stetson Semifinal Notes
- Kaneisha Atwater recorded only her second double-double of the season with 25 points and a career-high 14 rebounds. Her 25 points are the most since she scored 30 vs. Western Michigan on Dec. 21.
- Stephanie Haas scored a season-high 15 points, giving her 1,061 points for her career. She moves up into 90th place on the A-Sun's all-time scoring list.
- The Eagles connected on four three-pointers in the game. FGCU now owns a 11-4 mark when hitting fewer than 10 triples. They are 17-0 when making double-digit trifectas this season.
- Sarah Sagerer scored a season-high 19 points to lead the Hatters offense tonight. It marks her seventh double-digit scoring game of the season and 12th of her career.