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FORT MYERS, Fla. – Jacksonville stunned top-seed FGCU 56-54 to claim its first-ever Atlantic Sun Women's Basketball Championship title and advance to the NCAA Tournament. The Dolphins are heading to the Big Dance for the first time in program history.
A-Sun Championship MVP, Brandi Buie hit the game-winning shot with 3.1 seconds left to go from the baseline as the Dolphins secured the victory. Buie finished the game with a team-high 16 points and added four rebounds. First Team All-Conference selection Sherranda Reddick added 11 points and grabbed the final rebound to hold on to the two-point victory.
In a physical game, the Dolphins took the early lead as All-Tournament team pick Briona Brown scored the opening bucket. Sister Jasmyn Brown added a jumper to give the Dolphins the early lead which they would hold for a 12-11 advantage after the opening quarter. FGCU found some offensive rhythm in the second quarter as A-Sun Player of the Year Whitney Knight connected on two triples, while Kaneisha Atwater added two triples on her way to a game-high 22 points. FGCU took a 29-20 lead before Christin Mercer banked in a runner in the lane for the final points of the first half.
FGCU came out of the locker room on fire as Atwater and Knight gave the Eagles a 41-30 lead at the media timeout of the third quarter. Jacksonville showed toughness and used their offensive rebounding advantage to get back into the game. The Dolphins outrebounded 48-29 in the game, 19-6 on the offensive glass and closed the quarter on a 9-0 run to cut the deficit to 43-39 at the end of three.
The fourth quarter belonged to the Dolphins as they upped the defensive pressure to hold FGCU to just 11 points and without a field goal for the final 4:15 of the game. That setup Brandi Buie's heroics as she got the ball out of a Coach McPhee-McCuin timeout and drove to the baseline before hitting a floater from just outside the lane to give the Dolphins the win.
The Dolphins improve to 22-10 on the season, while FGCU falls to 28-5 on the year. The Eagles have put together a 22-2 record since Whitney Knight returned from injury and went undefeated in conference play for the fourth time in the last five years. The Eagles posted a 12-0 record in true road games and had signature wins against George Washington, Arizona and Auburn. They entered today's game with a 21-game winning streak and look to become the first A-Sun team to earn an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament.
Atlantic Sun Women's Basketball All-Tournament Team
- Brandi Buie, Jacksonville - Championship MVP
- Briona Brown, Jacksonville
- Sherranda Reddick, Jacksonville
- Kaneisha Atwater, FGCU
- Whitney Knight, FGCU
- Travonda Haddock, USC Upstate
- Sarah Sagerer, Stetson
FGCU vs. Jacksonville Championship Final Notes
- Brandi Buie averaged 16.0 points per game in the A-Sun Championship earning Most Valuable Player Honors. She averaged just over 8.0 PPG during the regular season for the Dolphins.
- Kimberly Dawkins and Briona Brown tied for team-high honors with 13 rebounds in today's victory. For Brown, the 13 rebounds is just one shy of her career-high.
- With 11 points, Sherranda Reddick moved into 67th on the A-Sun's all-time scoring list. The junior enters the NCAA tournament with 1,178 career points.
- Whitney Knight tallied four blocks in the game giving her 309 for her career. That mark is first in A-Sun history.