Memphis and Tulane Heads to WNIT; Rice Set For WBI
March 13, 2012
IRVING, Texas - After UTEP was selected to the 2012 NCAA Championship, Memphis, Tulane and Rice also got the opportunity to extend their seasons. The Tigers and Green Wave were invited to the Women's National Invitational Tournament while the Owls will participate in the Women's Basketball Invitational.
Memphis will host Chattanooga in the opening round on Thursday, at 7 p.m. in the Elma Roane Fieldhouse. This is the sixth time the program has made an appearance in the WNIT field, a bracket of 64 teams that is played entirely on school's home floors. Last year, the Tigers hosted Alabama in the first round of the WNIT, losing 80-69 to the Crimson Tide. Memphis is making an appearance in a post season tournament for a third-straight season in Melissa McFerrin's fourth year. In McFerrin's second season, the Tigers advanced all the way to the finals of the Women's Basketball Invitational, then earned the program's first WNIT bid since 2004 with last year's nod.
Tulane will also play in the postseason for the third consecutive year as the Green Wave will open WNIT action on Thursday as well when they play host to Mississippi Valley State at 7 p.m. in Fogelman Arena.
The trip to the WNIT is the second in as many years for Tulane following a 1-1 showing in the event a year ago and comes two seasons after making the NCAA Tournament in 2010. The WNIT invite marks the first time the Green Wave earned three consecutive postseason bids since making capping a 10-year run with a trip to the NCAAs in 2003. It is also the program's 14th overall postseason bid - 13 of which have come under head coach Lisa Stockton's direction - and fourth trip to the WNIT as Tulane also played in the event in 1994 and 2007.
Tulane enters the 2012 WNIT with a 22-10 overall record and finished tied for third in the Conference USA regular-season standings with a 9-7 mark in league play. The Green Wave solidified their spot in the postseason by winning its first two games during last week's C-USA Women's Basketball Championship in Memphis, Tenn., with victories over East Carolina and host Memphis before falling to regular-season champions UTEP in the Saturday night's title game.
Thursday's WNIT matchup with Mississippi Valley State marks the first-ever meeting the two schools. The Delta Devils are 18-13 to date and claimed an automatic bid to the WNIT by virtue of the regular-season Southwestern Athletic Conference crown after going 14-4 in league play.
Rice will be competing in its first WBI. The Owls are set travel to Huntsville, Texas to take on host Sam Houston State on Wednesday at 6:30 p.m. inside Johnson Coliseum. This marks the second-straight year in which the Owls have played in a post-season tournament and the fourth under head coach Greg Williams. Rice previously competed in the WNIT in 2006, 2007, and 2011.
The Rice-Sam Houston State winner will play the winner of the Northern Iowa vs. Stephen F. Austin State contest in the second round.
Conference USA has had two teams to previous compete in the WBI. UAB won the 2011 title while Memphis advanced to the championship game.