LEXINGTON, Ky. - The Kentucky women’s basketball team will be a part of postseason play for a school-record third consecutive season as it was selected to participate in the Women’s National Invitation Tournament. The Wildcats will meet the Oakland Golden Grizzlies located in Rochester, Mich., Thursday, March 15. Game times and ticket information will be announced Tuesday, March 13.
“I’m disappointed we didn’t make the NCAA Tournament,” fourth-year Coach Mickie DeMoss said. “We had our sights set on that, but we still have an opportunity to do something special and advance in the WNIT. We’re still building and growing, and things don’t always go in a straight line when you’re trying to get to the top. Last year, we kind of exceeded some expectations and this year we kind of took a little dip, but we still have an opportunity to do something special and advance in the WNIT.”
The appearance marks Kentucky’s fourth all-time in the WNIT and its second in three years. The Wildcats, who have never participated in three consecutive postseason tournaments in the NCAA era, have an 8-2 record all-time in the postseason event and claimed the title in 1990. The Cats last competed in the WNIT in 2005 when they advanced to the semifinal round before falling to West Virginia in double overtime.
Oakland, a member of the Mid-Continent Conference, finished the regular season with a 19-12 overall record and 12-2 mark in league play. The Golden Grizzlies fell in the Mid-Con Tournament championship game to Oral Roberts, 72-55. OU went 0-1 vs. the SEC this season, falling at Auburn, 74-55.
Kentucky and Oakland meet for the first time in school history. The Wildcats are 4-0 all-time vs. members in the current alignment of the Mid-Continent Conference and last faced a member of that league last season when they hosted IUPUI last season.
Kentucky (18-13) has won 18 games for the third consecutive season and advanced to the quarterfinals of the Southeastern Conference Tournament. The Wildcats finished the league with a 6-8 mark and at one point during the non-conference schedule boasted an eight-game winning streak.
Junior All-SEC second team center Sarah Elliott (McKee, Ky.) leads the Wildcats in scoring, averaging 13.5 ppg, while fellow junior and All-SEC second team selection Samantha Mahoney (Detroit) follows with 12.2 ppg. Senior forward/center Jennifer Humphrey (Memphis, Tenn.) is the squad’s leading rebounder with a 10.4 rpg average, while Elliott follows with 7.2 rpg.
The WNIT field includes 48 teams this season for the first time in the history of the event. Thirty-one teams receive automatic bids from their conferences. The automatic bid goes to the highest-finishing team in the conference’s regular-season standings that does not advance to the NCAA Tournament. The other 17 selections are granted on an at-large basis. All games in the single-elimination format are played at the home facilities of participating schools.
Four teams that UK faced this season are part of this season’s WNIT field, including three SEC squads. Auburn, Indiana, Mississippi State and South Carolina all are participating in the postseason event.
Should UK advance, it would face Ball State. Date and location for that contest are to be determined.