Michigan (21-13) at Florida Gulf Coast (32-5) – One of the charms of the Postseason WNIT is how many matchups are first-time meetings for the teams, and this game is another one. The winner will play at South Dakota on Saturday, April 2 at 3 p.m. ET for the WNIT championship, with the game televised by CBS Sports Network.
Michigan has held tough in comparison to other teams in the Big Ten, reaching postseason play for the seventh straight season, and this game marks the second consecutive year Michigan has reached the WNIT semifinals. The future is looking bright as well, with sophomore Katelynn Flaherty (22.4 points per game) and freshman Hallie Thome (14.6 ppg) leading the way offensively. The Wolverines are very potent from the 3-point line, sitting in the top five nationally at 40.3 percent.
Having played its first four games of the WNIT at home, Michigan has been able to stay rested and recover more quickly from the demands of the schedule. The last game, a 77-76 victory against Temple, was secured after Thome hit a shot with 8 seconds to go, after the Wolverines had five other looks at the basket in the same possession.
Florida Gulf Coast has carefully navigated the space between frustration about missing the NCAA Tournament, while staying focused and determined about the challenges of the WNIT. Befitting their status as one of the stronger mid-major teams in the country, the Eagles are holding teams to less than 50 points per game, while ranking third in the country in made 3-pointers.
This is the sixth time Florida Gulf Coast has played in the Postseason WNIT; four times, the Eagles were eliminated after the second round. Kaneisha Atwater leads the team in scoring with 14.2 points per game, and she also reels in six rebounds per contest.
“It’s very exciting,” FGCU senior center Whitney Knight said. “For us not to go to the NCAA Tournament, this opportunity is great for us. It’s exciting to go to the Final Four and really focus on these games and play with a chip on our shoulder, because we felt we should be in the NCAA Tournament.”