TALLAHASSEE – This win was sweet.
After two trips to the NCAA tournament, both losses in overtime, FGCU finally broke the curse of losing.
Seven-seeded FGCU avenged a 61-60 overtime loss in 2014 to Oklahoma State in West Lafayette, Indiana with a 75-67 victory over Oklahoma State to secure the first victory for the FGCU women’s team in the NCAA tournament.
“Obviously this is a very exciting time for us,” FGCU head coach Karl Smesko said. “We get our first Division-I tournament win. We beat a very good team.”
But this was more than just a victory; this was payback.
When the match-up was announced on Monday, the excitement wasn’t that FGCU was playing as a seven-seed; it was because they were playing the Cowgirls again.
“This win was awesome,” FGCU junior Stephanie Haas said. “Especially after last year being so close and falling short. It feels awesome to be able to come back and actually play the same team again and get the W.”
Haas finished the game with nine points but she wasn’t alone with her mindset.
“It makes it better because we beat them and they beat us last year,” FGCU junior DyTiesha Dunson said.
Dunson finished with five but it redshirt junior Whitney Knight who needed this win the most. Knight was on the team in 2012 that lost to St. Bonaventure in Tallahassee and also on the team last year that lost by one.
“This is an amazing feeling,” Knight said. “Just to finally get that NCAA tournament win is a really great feeling. We came into this game expecting to get the win so the fact that we did it is great.”
All game FGCU was dominant. They lead for 36:56 of 40 minutes. At the 4:37 mark in the second half FGCU lead by 17. There was never any doubt.
This team is not the same that lost by one last year. They are not the team that crumbles under pressure. They are a team that can make a deep run into this tournament and they aren’t the only people to know that.
“I can see this team going deep in the tournament because they are so hard to guard,” Oklahoma State head coach Jim Littell said. “When you get some BCS schools that are like us where it’s more of a traditional lineup they might have some challenges. But they are going to be challenge for a lot of people because they are good at what they do.”
FGCU faces off against the two seed of Florida State on Monday at 6 p.m. on ESPNU. The winner will earn a trip to the Sweet 16 in Greensboro, North Carolina.