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Oklahoma State can't keep pace with Florida Golf Coast in 75-67 loss

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TALLAHASSEE, Florida — Oklahoma State coach Jim Littell knew his team would have trouble matching up with 20th-ranked Florida Gulf Coast in Saturday's first-round game of the NCAA tournament.

He was correct.

"They play a five-guard set essentially, which is unconventional for us," Littell said. We knew what was coming."

Kaneisha Atwater scored 26 points and Whitney Knight added 19 points and 10 rebounds Saturday as FGCU won its 26th straight game with a 75-67 victory over Oklahoma State in first-round play of the NCAA tournament.

Atwater hit 10 of 17 shots and also grabbed eight rebounds while the 6-foot-3 Knight was 8 of 20 from the floor.

"It's hard to prepare for a guard like Knight, who created all kinds of matchup problems," he said. "They are a very good team."

The Cowgirls season ended with a 20-12 record, the fourth straight year they've won at least 20 games — a first at the school.

It was a sweet win for the Eagles (31-2) who were eliminated in last year's first round of the NCAA tournament 61-60 in overtime by Oklahoma State. It was also their first win in three tries at the big dance.

"To get the first-round win for the first time is definitely an exciting thing," FGCU coach Karl Smesko said. "It's nice to get over the hump. Great to see our kids celebrating."

Oklahoma State was led in scoring by junior guard Roddricka Patton's career high 23 points. She had scored only 34 points all season entering the game. Patton hit five of eight tries from 3-point distance.

"I knew they would leave me open," Patton said. "I had to knockdown shots to help my team."

Liz Donohoe added 14 points for the Cowgirls, all in the second half.

Brittney Martin's game-high 12 rebounds helped Oklahoma State to a 44-32 advantage on the boards.

The Eagles shot 45.2 percent and hit on 34.4 percent from 3-point distance while Oklahoma State shot just 37.1 despite making 8 of 15 from 3-point land.

The Cowgirls closed to within three early in the second half at 8-35 on a Donohoe jumper with 17:45 remaining, but couldn't get any closer.

TIP-INS:

Florida Gulf Coast: The Eagles last loss was nearly four months ago when they lost 90-83 to Ohio State in a double overtime game Nov. 29 at the Paradise Jam in the Virgin Islands. Only UConn and Princeton have longer winning streaks.

Oklahoma State finished with 20 wins in four straight seasons for the first time in its history.

RIM SHOTS

Oklahoma State had previously played four overtime games in NCAA tournament games.

FGCU's Whitney Knight, the Atlantic Sun Coast Conference Player of the Year, is the only player to lead a conference in 3-point shots and blocked shots.

LONG DISTANCE

Florida Gulf Coast kept up its pace shooting 3-pointers, making 11 of 32 in Saturday's win.

Oklahoma State was 8-of-15 from beyond the arc.

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