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Give ‘Em Kel: FGCU women deserved an NCAA bid

There’s no reason FGCU shouldn’t have earned an at-large bid into the women’s NCAA Tournament.  

Two weeks ago FGCU, the No. 26-ranked team in the nation, didn’t earn the conference’s automatic bid into the Big Dance after being upset by Jacksonville in the Atlantic Sun Conference Tournament.

Without an auto-bid, FGCU had to hope for an at-large bid. The Eagles deserved that bid, but it never came.

FGCU head coach Karl Smesko questions a call during Wednesday night's round of 16 WNIT game against Tulane. (Photo: Linwood Ferguson)

FGCU head coach Karl Smesko questions a call during Wednesday night’s round of 16 WNIT game against Tulane. (Photo: Linwood Ferguson)

This is after FGCU went perfect in the conference regular season for the fourth year, earned its sixth regular season title and returned to its fifth conference championship game.

This is after, this season FGCU beat teams such as George Washington, Providence, Arizona, Western Michigan, Quinnipiac and Auburn. In the Puerto Rico Classic, FGCU nearly beat No. 9 Mississippi State, falling in the final moments, 65-60.

Most of FGCU’s five losses in the regular season came when the two-time A-Sun Conference Player of the Year Whitney Knight missed nine games at the beginning of the season with a foot injury. During Knight’s absence, FGCU went 6-3, losing to Florida Atlantic, Ohio University and Arkansas State.

FGCU is second in the nation in scoring defense, holding its opponents to an average of 49.2 points a game. FGCU is only outdone by behind the basketball dynasty that is UConn, which has 48.

The Eagles also reign as the No. 3 team in the nation for made 3-pointers in a game, with 340 this season.  

Even Jacksonville’s head coach Yolett McPhee-McCain, who led the Dolphins to a 22-11 season and the program’s first-ever NCAA appearance, agreed that FGCU deserved to be in the tournament.

“There is no reason that FGCU shouldn’t get an at-large bid,” McPhee-McCain after the A-Sun Championship. “That team is tournament ready and shame on the committee if they don’t put them in.”

McPhee-McCain said it best. Shame on them.

With the conference tournament loss and no call for the NCAA Tournament, FGCU earned the WNIT automatic bid because of its regular season conference title.

In the WNIT, FGCU has won every game with double-digit points, scoring its lowest of 12 points against an opponent Wednesday night against Tulane. The only other team to have double-digit wins through three rounds is Michigan, which boasts at least a 23-point win in each WNIT game. That’s it.

On Monday, FGCU steam-rolled over Atlantic Coast Conference team Wake Forest, 67-48.

In the round of sixteen in the WNIT, FGCU ran over Tulane through most of the game, earning 11 3-pointers in the process.

Now how are you going to tell me we’re not a tournament team?

FGCU deserved the tournament and they were robbed, but that’s the struggle of a mid-major, I guess.

But hey, post-season is post-season.

I’m happy that we get to continue to watch this team into March, maybe even April.

In the WNIT, our chances of continuing on into April look pretty good. We just should be playing for Indianapolis in April, not a “to be decided” school location.  

FGCU will face Hofstra in the Elite Eight round of the WNIT at 7 p.m. on Monday, March 28.

About The Author

Kelli Krebs

Kelli Krebs is a senior at Florida Gulf Coast University and is currently the editor-in-chief at FGCU's campus newspaper, Eagle News. She majors in journalism and minoring in advanced procrastination and works throughout the area as a sports reporter and freelance photographer. When she's not behind a camera, Kelli can be found secretly jamming along to the "Grease" soundtrack in her car, quoting all of the dialogue from Fight Club, or watching Breaking Bad reruns (RIP W.W.). Fan of pre-Jameis Winston Florida State, college basketball, Red Sox Spring Training, and untorrented FC Barcelona games.

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