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FGCU beats Virginia Tech 84-81 despite 42 points by Kitley

NCAA Florida Gulf Coast Virginia Tech Basketball
Posted at 5:44 PM, Mar 18, 2022

COLLEGE PARK, Md. (AP) — Karli Seay made a 3-pointer from the corner with 26 seconds remaining, and 12th-seeded Florida Gulf Coast ousted fifth-seeded Virginia Tech 84-81 on Friday despite a career-high 42 points by Elizabeth Kitley.

Kierstan Bell scored 22 points for FGCU, which was ranked in the AP Top 25 this week but received a double-digit seed in the NCAA Tournament. The Eagles (30-2) showed exactly how dangerous they can be, overcoming a huge matchup problem against the 6-foot-6 Kitley.

Bell scored inside with just over a minute remaining to put the Eagles up 76-74. After a miss by Kitley, Seay connected from beyond the arc to make it a five-point game, and FGCU made enough free throws to hold on.

Kitley, a third-team All-American, scored Virginia Tech’s first 14 points of the fourth quarter. The Eagles were a bit more effective doubling her after that, but she still had 18 in the period. Her 42 points tied her for seventh on the tournament’s single-game scoring list.

FGCU leads the nation in 3-point attempts by a wide margin, so this game was quite a contrast in styles. The Eagles went 15 of 38 from beyond the arc while Kitley dominated inside.

FGCU took 15 of its 18 shots from 3-point range in the first quarter. The Eagles did a better job attacking the rim after that, but their performance beyond the arc was crucial all the way until the end.

Virginia Tech (23-10) did a good job on Kendall Spray, who is fourth on the career list in made 3-pointers. She had only one in this game, a banked heave with the shot clock running low that put FGCU up by eight late in the third.

BIG PICTURE

FGCU: The Eagles sounded confident coming into this game, and they made the most of their chance to show they were underseeded. A Sweet 16 appearance is certainly possible.

Virginia Tech: Kitley should hold her head high after a fabulous performance. If FGCU was seeded too low, then the Hokies were a victim of that by having to face the Eagles so early.

UP NEXT

FGCU plays Sunday against the winner of the game between fourth-seeded Maryland and 13th-seeded Delaware.

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Follow Noah Trister at https://twitter.com/noahtrister

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More AP coverage of March Madness: https://apnews.com/hub/march-madness and https://apnews.com/hub/womens-college-basketball and https://twitter.com/AP_Top25