For the sixth time in league history at least three teams will represent the Missouri Valley Conference in the Women's National Invitation Tournament, as Creighton, Illinois State and Missouri State earned bids to the recently expanded 64-team tournament, as announced Monday evening. The WNIT kicks off postseason action Wednesday with first-round games. Game times will be announced Tuesday, March 16, by the WNIT. All games are held on the campuses of participating schools.
Women's Basketball Hosts Stephen F. Austin in WNIT
FORT COLLINS, Colo. - The Creighton women's basketball team will make an appearance in the postseason Women's National Invitation Tournament for the third straight year and the sixth time in the last eight years when it plays host to Stephen F. Austin Friday night at D.J. Sokol Arena inside the Wayne & Eileen Ryan Athletic Center. The expanded field of 64 (up from 48) was announced late Monday night. Creighton's game time and ticket information will be released when available on Tuesday.
For the second straight season, Creighton (20-10) finished second in the Missouri Valley Conference regular-season (13-5) and as the MVC Tournament runner-up, falling 54-53 in heartbreaking fashion to Northern Iowa in the championship game. UNI scored the final nine points of the game - including a pair of free-throws with 7.1 seconds left - as the Bluejays went the final 7:46 without scoring, snapping Creighton's season-best five-game winning streak.
Stephen F. Austin is 18-10 on the season after going 13-3 in the Southland Conference for a first-place finish in the East Division. The Ladyjacks had a seven-game winning streak snapped when they were upset by Northwestern State, 96-82, in their opening game of the Southland Conference Tournament. SFA was 8-4 in true road games this year and 9-8 away from home overall.|
The Bluejays, 11-3 at home in their first season at D.J. Sokol Arena, will host a first-round WNIT game for the second straight year. The Jays defeated UC Riverside 64-51 last year in their final game at the Omaha Civic Auditorium.
Creighton and Stephen F. Austin have met four times previously, including two postseason meetings. CU owns a 3-1 advantage in the series. The last meeting between the teams came at the Duke Classic in Durham, N.C., with the Jays knocking off the Ladyjacks 91-64 on Nov. 30, 2004. CU and SFA met in the 1992 NCAA Tournament, a 75-74 Creighton loss at SFA. The teams also met on March 19, 1987 in the WNIT in Amarillo, Texas, a 76-68 Bluejay win.
The winner of the CU-SFA game will advance to play the winner of Prairie View A&M's game at Kansas, which takes place on Wednesday. The second-round game site and time will be determined after first round results are known.
Redbirds To Host Butler on Wednesday in WNIT Opening Round
FORT. COLLINS, Colo. - Illinois State will host Butler in the first round of the 2010 Postseason WNIT Wednesday at 7:05 at Redbird Arena. The Redbirds received an automatic bid into the Postseason WNIT by virtue of its Missouri Valley Conference regular-season championship.
Illinois State is making its ninth appearance in the WNIT (1980, 1982, 1984, 1988, 1990, 1996, 2007, 2009 and 2010) and third in the last four seasons. The Redbirds are 10-14 all-time in the tournament. ISU won three games in the 2009 WNIT, advancing to the semifinals.
Illinois State has a 24-7 overall record, the same record it had at the beginning of last year's WNIT. The Redbirds won the MVC regular-season title, but lost to Northern Iowa in the semifinals of the State Farm MVC Tournament.
Butler is 23-9, finished second in the Horizon League with a 14-4 record and lost in the conference tournament championship game to Cleveland State. The Bulldogs received an automatic bid to the WNIT as the top team in the Horizon League not to qualify for the NCAA Tournament. Senior forward Melanie Thornton is the Horizon League Player of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year, ranking in the top-four in the conference in scoring, rebounding, blocks and steals.
The WNIT awards an automatic berth to each of the nation's 31 conferences. The spot goes to the team that finishes the highest in the regular-season conference standings that does not advance to the NCAA Tournament. If there is a tie, the WNIT abides by the conference tiebreaker. To be considered for a WNIT automatic or at-large berth, a team must have an overall record of .500 or better.
The WNIT field expanded from 48 to 64 teams this season. All games will be played at the home arena of a participating school and first round games will take place March 17-20.
Lady Bears to Host Oral Roberts Friday in WNIT Opener
FORT COLLINS, Colo. - The Missouri State women's basketball team will be returning to the postseason for the first time in four years after receiving an at-large bid to the 2010 Women's National Invitation Tournament (WNIT) Monday evening. To kick off the 16th post-season tournament trip in school history, the Lady Bears will host a first-round game at JQH Arena against Oral Roberts Friday (March 19) night. Game time for Friday's contest will be announced Tuesday (March 16).
One of just 14 Division I women's basketball programs to post a turnaround of +10 games or more, Missouri State (20-10) finished third in the Missouri Valley Conference regular-season standings after being picked to finish seventh in the league's preseason poll under third-year head coach Nyla Milleson. The Lady Bears will be making their first postseason appearance since the 2006 NCAA Tournament, as well as their third WNIT appearance overall. Missouri State dropped an overtime decision to Eastern Kentucky in the opening round of the 2002 meet, then swept the WNIT field with five straight victories in 2005 to claim their first national tournament title.
The nation's highest-scoring team (86.1 ppg.), ORU is one of the aforementioned 14 schools to post a double-digit improvement in wins this season, entering the tournament with a 23-9 mark after going 13-17 last year. The Golden Eagles captured the Summit League regular-season crown, winning 14 of their last 15 contests before falling to South Dakota State in the championship game of the conference tournament last Tuesday.
Friday's meeting will be a rematch of the two clubs Dec. 19 match-up, in which the Lady Bears knocked off the Golden Eagles, 99-81, in Tulsa.
The 64-team, single-elimination WNIT will consist of 31 automatic berths and 33 at-large selections, with all games played at host school sites. An automatic bid was offered to each established Division I conference to the team that finished highest during the regular season and did not receive a bid to the NCAA Tournament. The 33 at-large bids were filled by the top remaining teams available, as decided by a series of factors. All Division I teams with overall records of .500 or better are considered for the at-large berths.
Dates for the 2010 WNIT include first-round games on March 17-19, second-round contests on March 20-22, third-round match-ups on March 24-26, quarterfinal games on March 27-29, semifinal pairings on March 31-April 1, and the championship game on April 3.
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