FORT COLLINS, Colo - The 64-team field for the Women's National Invitation Tournament was announced on Monday evening and included Southern Confernece programs ETSU and Chattanooga.
On Monday night, the ETSU women’s basketball team was officially named one of the 32 automatic qualifiers for the 2018 Women’s National Invitational Postseason Tournament (WNIT). The Bucs will travel to Harrisonburg, Va. to take on the James Madison Dukes. The game is set for Thursday, March 15 with a 7:00 p.m. tip-off.
James Madison earned an at-large bid finishing 21-10 in the Colonial conference. They are the fourth winningest women’s basketball program in NCAA history. JMU is 15-7 all-time in the WNIT, with a 13-2 finish at home.
This will be the 14th time ETSU and JMU will meet in program history. The Dukes edge the Bucs with a 7-6 all-time win record and have won the last four contests against the Bucs.
This selection marks the Bucs’ first appearance in a non-league postseason tournament since 2014-15, when ETSU hosted their first-ever postseason WNIT welcoming NC State to Brooks Gym. The Bucs hold a 1-4 all-time record in the WNIT, with appearances also coming in the 2006-07 season and the 1994-95 season.
ETSU compiled a 20-12 overall record and finished second in the Southern Conference to Mercer in both the regular season and postseason conference championship. The Bucs were offered an automatic berth in the postseason by the WNIT for being the highest-finishing team in its conference’s regular season standings that was not selected for this year’s NCAA Tournament. In total, there are 32 automatic bids for the WNIT and 32 at-large selections.
The Chattanooga women's basketball team accepted its bid to the Women's National Invitation Tournament and will travel to Birmingham, Ala., to take on UAB in the first round. This will be Chattanooga's sixth appearance in the WNIT and 21st in the postseason since 1984.
Mocs vs. UAB
When: March 15, 2018 | Time: TBA
Where: Birmingham, Ala.
MOCS vs. UAB
The Mocs and Blazers have met 34 times from 1980-2013. UTC owns a 20-14 record against UAB and has won the last eight contests.
The Mocs are 17-12 on the year, finishing third in the Southern Conference regular season and falling to UNCG in double overtime in the SoCon Tournament first round. Chattanooga was without leading scorer Keiana Gilbert and top 3-point shooter Lakelyn Bouldin for the championships.
Chattanooga with 12.3 fouls per game, ranks third in the NCAA for fewest per game. The Mocs average 59.1 points per game and are 26th in the NCAA for scoring defense allowing opponents just 56.6 points per game. The Mocs have held opponents to 29.4 percent from beyond the arc, ranking 58th in the NCAA and are 75th for field goal percentage defense. UTC leads the SoCon in blocked shots with 4.3 per game, ranking 57th in the NCAA.
Aryanna Gilbert is second on the team in scoring (12.6) and rebounds (6.3) per game. She is shooting 87.5 percent from the free throw line and is second on the team in 3-point shooting with 38. Lakelyn Bouldin returns to the lineup. She is third on the team in scoring with 12.3 points per game and leads the team in 3-point shooting with 59 and is 88.4 percent from the charity stripe making 61-of-69. Bouldin ranks 68th in the NCAA for 3-point shooting percentage making 48.6 percent of her attempts. Arianne Whitakerleads Chattanooga on the boards with 6.6 rebounds per game and has a team-best 42 blocked shots. She and freshman Brooke Burns are each averaging 5.8 points per game.
The Blazers are 26-6 and won their first-ever Conference-USA regular season title after being picked seventh in the preseason poll. UAB won a program-record 26 games this season. Head Coach Randy Norton was selected the C-USA Coach of the Year and three were named all-conference. The Blazers fell 72-57 to Western Kentucky in the conference tournament finals.
UAB averages 72.6 points per game and has an 11.7 scoring advantage over its opponents. On the boards the Blazers have 38.1 rebounds per game compared to 34.6 by its foes. From the field UAB is shooting 44.6 percent and 39 percent from beyond the arc making 8.1 per game.
Rachel Childress leads three players in double figures with 14.3 points per game and has 105 3-pointers, shooting 44.9 percent. Deanna Kuzmanic averages 14.1 points per game and has 123 assists and a team-high 44 steals. Miyah Barnes is the third player in double figures with 11.1 points per game and a team-best 159 assists. Kara Rawls leads UAB on the boards with eight per game off the bench and Angela Vendrell has a team-best 42 blocked shots.
ABOUT THE BRACKET
The winner of the first round game will advance to the second round to take on eight Georgia Tech or Bethune-Cookman. Date, time and location to be announced as games are played at home sites.
MOCS IN THE WNIT
The Mocs are 4-5 all-time in the WNIT/NWIT. UTC, ranked 19th in the AP Top 20 poll, was invited to the National Women's Invitation Tournament in 1984. The Lady Mocs defeated Oklahoma (84-78) in the quarterfinal round and Clemson (70-66) in the semifinal. UTC was edged 67-66 by Vanderbilt in the final.
In Wes Moore's second season, the Mocs won the SoCon regular season with the greatest turnaround in school history from 10-17 in the 1998-99 season to 26-5 the next year. UTC fell to UNC Greensboro in the SoCon Tournament semifinal and accepted a bid to the WNIT. Chattanooga defeated Alabama 70-68 at home before falling to Georgia Tech (81-74) at the Roundhouse two days later.
In 2005, UTC defeated Villanova 50-40 in the first round before falling at Kentucky, 91-54 at the Memorial Coliseum. The Mocs would meet up again with Kentucky in Lexington in 2009 with the Wildcats winning 81-76 in overtime.
After missing out on the postseason in 2011, UTC traveled across the state to take on Memphis in the first round, falling 60-59 in a heartbreaker.
CHATTANOOGA IN THE POSTSEASON
UTC has advanced to the postseason tournament 20 times since 1984 including 15 NCAA Tournament appearances.