FORT MYERS, Fla. - For the first time in program history, FGCU advanced past the second round of the WNIT Tournament with a convincing 67-48 home victory over Wake Forest on Monday night. The Eagles will host Tulane next on Wednesday, March 23rd.
FGCU dominated the early goings as the Eagles' nationally ranked defense stifled the Demon Deacons for most of the first half. FGCU took a 20-7 lead after the opening quarter with Kaneisha Atwater scoring 11 of her 23 points in the opening period. Stephanie Haas came off the bench to score the final four points of the frame, including a buzzer beating put back to give FGCU a comfortable lead.
It was much of the same in the second quarter as FGCU limited Wake Forest to just eight points. FGCU controlled the boards as well as they built a 23-17 rebounding advantage in the first half. A-Sun Player of the Year, Whitney Knight controlled the paint with five rebounds and three blocks in the opening half. FGCU took a 31-15 advantage into the locker room.
The Demon Deacons found some offensive rhythm in the third quarter as they scored 17 points, but Stephanie Haas and Taylor Gradinjan hit timely triples to keep Wake Forest at bay and give the Eagles a 47-32 lead entering the fourth quarter. Haas began the fourth quarter with eight of her season-high 18 points to build the lead back up to 25 points with six minutes to go. FGCU overcame Knight fouling out with four minutes remaining and cruised down the stretch to the 67-48 victory.
The Eagles will now face Tulane at home on Wednesday, March 23rd in the third round of the WNIT. Tonight's victory was the first for FGCU in four second round WNIT games in program history. The win improves the Eagles record to 30-5, giving them back-to-back 30 win seasons.
FGCU vs. Wake Forest WNIT Tournament Notes
- Whitney Knight blocked four shots in tonight's WNIT victory over Wake Forest. It marks the 11th consecutive time that Knight has blocked three or more shots. She extended her A-Sun career blocks lead to 318
- Stephanie Haas was a critical player off the bench as she scored a season-high 18 points. It marked her 11th double-digit scoring game of the season. Her previous high was 15 points in the A-Sun semifinals against Stetson.
- Kaneisha Atwater scored 23 points in today's win, her 18th career 20-point scoring game. She has three 20-point games in her last four outings for the Eagles.
- FGCU won its 30th game tonight, giving them back-to-back 30-win seasons. It's the fourth time in program history, the Eagles have reached the 30-win plateau. They are one of just seven teams in Division I to hit that mark this season.