When Tulane plays at Florida Gulf Coast at 6 p.m. Wednesday in the Women’s National Invitation Tournament round of 16, the Green Wave has a chance to go where the program has never been.
And Tulane (23-11), which also reached this round in 2012, has a shot to win 24 games — the most in program history — for the first time since 2002.
“We’ve never (made the WNIT quarterfinals), and that’s really going to be a challenge for our seniors,” coach Lisa Stockton said Tuesday, a day after the Green Wave’s 64-61, second-round win at Georgia Tech. “They have a chance to do something that’s never been done here.”
To do that, the Wave will have to get past FGCU, which is 30-5 and was 14-0 in the Atlantic Sun Conference before losing to Jacksonville in the tournament title game. The Wave’s challenge, Stockton said, comes defensively against a different style than usual. In edging Georgia Tech, Tulane had to guard a good post player as well as a dynamic guard who can score in a lot of ways.
“(FGCU) doesn’t really have a post player,” Stockton said. “All five players shoot 3s. They shoot 3-pointers or layups. We’re going to have to guard some people.”
The Eagles are led by guard Whitney Knight, a two-time Atlantic Sun player of the year; all-conference guard Kaneisha Atwater and defensive player of the year DyTiesha Dunson. FGCU averages 31.2 shots behind the 3-point arc, making 9.6. Its offense typically goes deep into the shot clock, one reason FGCU is second in the nation in points allowed per game (49.3). But it’s also 20th in field-goal percentage defense (35.7 percent), including 25.3 percent on the opponent’s 3-point attempts.
The bigger issue: While Tulane is not accustomed to defending an offense like FGCU’s, the Eagles often defend against traditional ones such as Tulane’s. But that doesn’t mean guarding the Wave will be easy, either.
“I think we need to be aggressive and take advantage of spots where we’re strong,” Stockton said. “We have good post players. In the backcourt, Kolby Morgan is a really difficult player to defend. Hopefully we can really make them have to guard us.”