BOWLING GREEN – The Bowling Green State University women's basketball team will host SMU in the first round of the Women's National Invitation Tournament (WNIT). The Falcons of head coach Jennifer Roos will meet the Mustangs on Thursday night (March 21), with tipoff set for 7:00 p.m. at the Stroh Center.
Tickets for Thursday's game can be obtained through the BGSU Athletic Ticket Office in the Stroh Center, either by phone (877-BGSU TICKET), or in person during business hours (8:30 a.m. - 5:30 p.m.).
Additionally, 300 BGSU students will gain free admission to the game, courtesy of the BGSU Office of Student Affairs. Details (time and location) will be available on Tuesday here at BGSUFalcons.com.
"We are very happy to participate in the WNIT, and to still be playing basketball at this time of the year," said Roos. "This is the ninth consecutive season in which BGSU has advanced to national postseason play, and we couldn't be more proud of that fact.
"Additionally, we are extremely fortunate to be playing a home game. Playing at the Stroh Center is second to none, and I want to thank our loyal fans and community members, along with our administration, for helping to make this happen. We will have 48 hours to prepare for an extremely talented team who averages nearly 70 points per game. It should be entertaining for our fans to see the Conference USA regular-season champion and the Conference USA Player of the Year play at the Stroh Center on Thursday."
BGSU, which earned an at-large bid to the WNIT, will enter the tourney with an overall record of 22-10. The Falcons finished Mid-American Conference regular-season play with an 11-5 record. BG finished second in the MAC's East Division, a game behind Akron, after winning divisional crowns in each of the previous eight seasons. The Brown and Orange has increased the program's streak of 20-win seasons to a MAC-record 10 in a row.
The Falcons' nine consecutive seasons with a national postseason appearance is also a MAC record.
SMU earned the automatic bid out of Conference USA. The Mustangs (21-9, 12-4 C-USA) won the league's regular-season title, but were upset, 70-66, by eighth seeded UCF in the quarterfinal round of the conference tournament. UCF also defeated BGSU by a narrow margin in 2012-13, with a 59-56 victory at the Stroh Center in the Falcons' last non-conference game (Jan. 4, 2013). SMU junior guard Keena Mays was the C-USA Player of the Year. Head coach Rhonda Rompola is in her 22nd season at the SMU helm.
This season marks the fifth time the Falcons have advanced to the Postseason WNIT, and the fourth trip in the last six years. BGSU has a 2-4 record in the tourney, including a 2-3 mark in home games – 2-2 at venerable Anderson Arena and 0-1 at the Stroh Center – and a 2-3 ledger since Roos arrived in Northwest Ohio.
The Falcons hosted Butler in WNIT action in 1998, losing a 95-90 decision at Anderson in the team's first appearance in the tourney. Five years ago, the Brown and Orange picked up a home win over Dayton (64-52; March 20, 2008) before losing at Michigan State, 74-66, two days later.
The following March, the Falcons were awarded a first-round bye in the then 48-team event, and BG played a pair of games at Anderson. The Falcons downed Syracuse by a 72-69 count in second-round action at "The House That Roars" (March 22, 2009), then fell to visiting Indiana, 75-67, in the third round (March 26, 2009).
Last season, VCU scored at the buzzer for a 72-71 win over the Falcons in first-round action at the Stroh Center (March 15, 2012).
BGSU enters the SMU game with a record of 12-4 at the Stroh Center this season and a 26-6 record in the building since it opened prior to last season. Seniors Simone Eli, Danielle Havel, Allison Papenfuss and Chrissy Steffen have helped BGSU post a 53-7 mark in home games since their arrival on campus, including a 29-3 MAC regular-season mark in those four years (Havel sat out the 2009-10 season as a transfer from DePaul University).
Thursday's game will mark the first-ever meeting between the Falcons and Mustangs in women's basketball.
The BGSU-SMU winner will meet either the University of Akron or Duquesne University in the second round of the tournament, with that game to be played sometime from Saturday (March 23) through Monday (March 25) at a site to be determined. The Dukes host the Zips in first-round action on Thursday.
The MAC had five teams selected for the WNIT, tied for the most of any conference. The Atlantic 10 Conference and Conference USA also had five teams chosen. In addition to BGSU and UA, the MAC is represented by Ball State, Miami and Toledo.
The 2013 Postseason Women's National Invitation Tournament, in its 16th year, features 64 teams in a single-elimination championship format. The field features 36 teams with 20 or more wins this season. First-round action tips off around the nation on Wednesday, March 20 and concludes on Friday, March 22. Second-round games will be held March 23-25, round three March 27-29, quarterfinals March 30-April 1, and semifinals April 3-4. The championship game will be played on Saturday, April 6 and will be televised live and in HD at 3 p.m. ET on CBS Sports Network. All games are hosted by participating schools.
This year's tournament, as mentioned, features five teams each from the MAC, Atlantic 10 and Conference USA, and Mid-American along with four from both the Big West and Southeastern conferences. The Big Sky, Colonial, Missouri Valley, Sun Belt, and West Coast conferences will all have three schools represented.
Other conferences in the field include: America East (2), Big 10 (2), Mountain West (2), Pacific 12 (2), Southern (2), Atlantic Coast (1), Atlantic Sun (1), Big 12 (1), Big East (1), Big South (1), Horizon (1), Ivy (1), MAAC (1), MEAC (1), Northeastern (1), Ohio Valley (1), Patriot (1), Southland (1), Summit (1), SWAC (1), and WAC (1).
Tournament officials awarded an Automatic Qualifying berth to 29 conferences. This spot went to the team that finished the highest in the regular-season conference standings that did not advance to the NCAA Tournament. If there were ties, the WNIT abided by the conference tiebreaker. A team earns the AQ berth regardless of its overall record. A total of 35 teams were then given an At-Large berth; a team must have an overall record of .500 or better to be considered.
The Postseason WNIT is owned and produced by Triple Crown Sports based in Fort Collins, Colo. TCS also organizes men's and women's college basketball tournaments in Cancun, and the Preseason WNIT. TCS manages over 300 amateur sporting events across the country in volleyball, fastpitch, baseball, and basketball. With 30 years of experience in the event business, TCS is nationally-recognized as a premier tournament organization. For more information on the WNIT, visit the tournament's website at womensnit.com.