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UK Hoops makes its school-record fourth straight NCAA Tournament appearance

LEXINGTON, Ky. – The No. 7/7 University of Kentucky women’s basketball team earned its school-record fourth straight bid to the NCAA Tournament, and 10th overall, with a No. 2 seed in the Bridgeport Regional. The Wildcats’ No. 2 seed ties its highest ever in the NCAA Tournament. The Wildcats (27-5) will face 15-seeded Navy in the first round Sunday, March 24 at Carnesecca Arena in Queens, N.Y. The game will air live on ESPNU at 12:05 p.m. ET.

The No. 2 seed is the third in school history for the Wildcats, and ties their highest seed ever in the tournament. Kentucky was also a two seed in 1982 and 2012. The other first-round matchup in Queens, N.Y., features No. 7 seed Dayton (27-2) and No. 10 seed St. John’s (18-12).

“We’re excited to be in the tournament again, and to get a two seed for the second year in a row shows you that the team has accomplished a lot over the season and they are considered one of the top eight teams in the country and there’s a bunch of teams playing,” UK Hoops Coach Matthew Mitchell said. “It’s really, really good to be back in the tournament and we are excited to get started and see what we can do with the draw we received.”

UK is 11-9 all-time in the Big Dance, including 7-3 under Mitchell. The best finishes for UK came in 2012, 2010 and 1982 when the Wildcats fell one win shy of the Final Four. Last season UK advanced to the Elite Eight with wins over McNeese State, Green Bay and Gonzaga. The Cats fell to top-seeded Connecticut in the NCAA Regional finals.

Navy (21-11), located in Annapolis, Md., and coached by Stefanie Pemper, claimed the 2013 Patriot League Tournament Championship with a 72-53 win over Holy Cross. It marked the Midshipmen’s third straight tournament title. Navy, co-champions of the regular season, has won three consecutive games leading into the NCAA Tournament. It will be the Midshipmen’s third straight trip to the NCAA Tournament.

Kentucky has a connection with Navy as former Wildcat Jenerrie Everette Harris (2001-04) who is in her fourth season as an assistant coach. UK also has a connection with the host-town of Queens, N.Y., as two Wildcats are native New Yorkers. Redshirt-sophomore point guard Jennifer O’Neill hails from the Bronx, N.Y., while sophomore forward Jelleah Sidney is from Queens Village, N.Y.

This will mark the first meeting vs. Navy in school history. However, UK is 3-0 all-time against teams from the Patriot League. Kentucky is 1-0 vs. American, Holy Cross and Lafayette.

Kentucky was one of seven Southeastern Conference teams to be awarded a bid to the NCAA Tournament on Monday evening. Texas A&M earned an automatic bid to the tournament after winning the conference tournament, and is a No. 3 seed in the Norfolk Regional. Tennessee (two seed), Georgia, South Carolina (four seeds), LSU (six seed) and Vanderbilt (eight seed) also made the field.

Earning No. 1 seeds are Baylor (32-1); Notre Dame (31-1); Connecticut (29-4) and Stanford (31-2). Baylor, Notre Dame and Stanford each won its respective conference regular season and tournament titles in the Big 12, Big East and Pac-12 Conferences, respectively, while Connecticut was an at-large selection from the Big East. The Final Four will be played April 7 and 9 at the New Orleans Arena in New Orleans.

The Queens, N.Y., pod is hosted by St. John’s and will be played at Carnesecca Arena. Session booklets, which include all three games, are $25 for adults and $15 for students (must be purchased at ticket window). Single session tickets are $15 for adults and $10 for students. Tickets are available through St. John’s ticket office at 1-800-GO-STORM or online at redstormsports.com. Everyone regardless of age requires a ticket for admission.


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