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FGCU whips Hofstra, to host Michigan in Women’s NIT semifinal

March 29, 2016
Special to the Breeze , Cape Coral Daily Breeze

FGCU earned a trip to the Women's NIT semifinals with a rousing 61-46 win Monday night over Hofstra at Alico Arena.

The Eagles (32-5) host Michigan (21-13) of the Big 10 Conference at 8 p.m. Thursday at Alico Arena, where thy are 18-3 this season, including four tournament wins in a row.

The Eagles are one of four teams remaining in the WNIT along with Michigan, Oregon and South Dakota. A win on Thursday sends the Eagles to the championship game on April 2.

FGCU grabbed a double-figure lead in the second period to the delight of a crowd of 3,307 in attendance. Hofstra rallied to trip the deficit to single digits in the third period, but the Eagles responded with a 14-6 run in the fourth to nail down the victory.

"I thought we played a great first half," said Eagles coach Karl Smesko. "Defensively, we followed the game plan and we executed at a high level. This is a team that is excellent in getting the ball back in transition but I thought we did a great job getting back and getting matched up and slowing down their offense. I give Hofstra a lot of credit. They showed a lot of fight from the very beginning. They made it a tight game in the third quarter but fortunately our defense picked it up in the fourth quarter and we hit some big shots down the stretch."

Seniors Kaneisha Atwater and Whitney Knight led the charge for the Eagles with 19 and 16 points, respectively. Atwater pulled down nine rebounds with two assists and a steal. Knight recorded her eighth double-double with 14 rebounds and an additional three assists, two blocks and a steal.



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