Tulane (23-11) at Florida Gulf Coast (30-5) – The Green Wave got past a potent Georgia Tech team in Round 2, playing lockdown defense in the final seconds to secure the 64-61 victory. Tulane had another tight one in Round 1, getting past Alabama, 53-52. Kolby Morgan averages nearly 18 points per game and also leads the team in steals.
FGCU has reached the 30-victory plateau for the second time and tends to win with defense, forcing more than 16 turnovers per game. Kaneisha Atwater averages 14 points per game, and Whitney Knight chips in with 12.9 ppg. The Eagles won their first-ever Round 2 game in the WNIT with a 67-48 triumph against Wake Forest.
“We came out and executed at a really high level,” said Karl Smesko, who has coached FGCU since the team's inception in 2002. “This is a really good win. Wake Forest has beaten Duke and North Carolina and N.C. State, so you know they're a capable team.”
Utah (18-14) at Oregon (22-10) – The Utes topped 90 points for the third time this season in Monday’s victory against Gonzaga. First-year coach Lynne Roberts has kept her team mentally and physically sharp, despite having a two-week layoff thanks to an early exit from the Pac-12 tournament.
“It’s just fun at this stage; it’s just a chance to compete and keep playing together, and the fact that we’re still playing means that we had a really good year,” Roberts said. “So this is kind of the reward that you get for that. … If a team can’t get motivated to play in the postseason, then they should get out of it.”
The Ducks were not to be messed with Monday in their 25-point victory against Fresno State. Offensive stars were numerous, with Kat Cooper scoring nine points in the first 10 minutes to get Oregon off to a stellar start.
“I’m really proud of our team tonight. I thought we played really hard,” said Oregon coach Kelly Graves. “Obviously we shot the heck out of it tonight, but I think that came from really good execution. I thought that, the third quarter especially, when we broke it open, that’s as good of basketball as I’ve ever gotten to coach.”
Tuesday, March 22 Previews
San Diego (25-7) at Michigan (19-13) – This is the first-ever matchup between these programs. The Toreros have been road warriors so far, winning at Northwestern and IUPUI to start the tournament, with San Diego natives and sisters Malina Hood (a senior) and Maya Hood (a junior) pacing the offense with a combined 33 points per game. Maya Hood was the West Coast Conference defensive player of the year.
The Wolverines reached the WNIT semifinals last year before losing to eventual champion UCLA. Katelynn Flaherty is an all-category force as a sophomore, shooting better than 40 percent from 3-point range and averaging 22.3 points per contest. Siera Thompson is just two assists away from Michigan’s single-season record, and freshman Hallie Thome (14.6 ppg) will likely set a school mark for best field-goal percentage.
Virginia (18-15) at Hofstra (24-8) – Virginia won the only other time these teams have played, 82-66, in the 2010 season opener for the Cavaliers. Virginia outrebounded Rutgers by 17 in their Round 2 game; Faith Randolph averages 13.5 points per game, and three other players sit at just under 10 points per contest. The team has won two WNIT games despite the exit of sophomore Mikayla Venson, who averaged 15.1 ppg but left the program before the WNIT opener versus VCU.
The Pride won at Villanova in Round 2; they are 13-1 in home games this season. Jakelle King-Gilcrest scored a career-high 22 points against Villanova. Hofstra will likely lean on its defense against Virginia, as the Pride has allowed just under 57 points per game while forcing about 16 turnovers each time out. Opponents are also shooting a bleak 27 percent from the 3-point line.