After two hard-fought semifinal contests, the 2017 Postseason WNIT championship game will pit two teams that met each other earlier in the season but who won’t be expecting anything along the lines of a repeat.
Tipoff for the game between Michigan and Georgia Tech is set for 3 p.m. ET on Saturday, April 1 – the contest will be televised by CBS Sports Network and played at Calihan Hall, a 8,295-seat arena on the campus of Detroit Mercy.
Michigan (27-9) slipped past Villanova, 65-61, in one semifinal; Georgia Tech (22-14) stopped Washington State, 69-61. The Wolverines beat Georgia Tech back on Dec. 1 by a 92-52 margin.
Georgia Tech – The Yellow Jackets used an 18-0 run in the second half to move ahead of Washington State, holding the Cougars to just seven points in the last quarter. Multiple players have contributed to this run through the WNIT, as ACC Freshman of the Year Francesca Pan has scored 72 points in five games and Zaire O’Neil has added 60 points. Imani Tilford has 42 points and 18 assists; Elo Edeferioka chipped in with 11 points and 16 rebounds in the semis, and Kaylan Pugh scored 47 points in the first four games of the tournament.
The Yellow Jackets force more than 17 turnovers per game on average and have held opponents to under 40 percent shooting from the field. The team doesn’t help itself much from the free throw line (61.5 percent), but has shown the ability to score in bunches, including a 27-point second-quarter outburst against Alabama in the quarterfinals.
Michigan – Opponents know the Wolverines have a classic inside-outside road map on offense through guard Katelynn Flaherty and center Hallie Thome, but no one’s been able to create a roadblock. Thome has an impressive 104 points and 30 rebounds in the WNIT; Flaherty, who scored 25 points against Georgia Tech in that December blowout, has 100 points and 19 rebounds to go with 18 assists. Also key is Siera Thompson, the program’s all-time leader in assists who has 20 assists in the tournament.
The Wolverines (who had reached the semifinals three straight years) are one of those rare teams that has more assists than turnovers; they shoot a solid 38.5 percent from 3-point range and top 72 percent from the free throw line. And so far, Michigan is holding up with freshman Kysre Gondrezick (14.9 ppg this season), who took a leave of absence from the team after Round 2 of the WNIT.