March 12, 2012
NEW ORLEANS - The Tulane University women's basketball team will play in the postseason for the third consecutive year as the Green Wave claimed an at-large bid to the 2012 Women's National Invitation Tournament. The Green Wave will open WNIT action on Thursday, March 15, when they play host to Mississippi Valley 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.
"I'm excited to still be playing and I think it's great to be playing so soon after our tournament," Stockton said. "Hopefully, we can keep some of the momentum that we had in the Conference USA Tournament. It's always a goal to be playing in the postseason and this is a great opportunity for our group. I think we're playing well. For this young team, it's great to get as many games as we can."
Tickets to Thursday's WNIT contest are available through the Tulane Athletics Ticket Office with student tickets selling for $4, while general admission and floor seats are available for $8 and $16, respectively. The Tulane Ticket Office is located on the first floor of the James W. Wilson, Jr. Center, and tickets can be purchased in person, over the phone at (504) 861-WAVE (9283) and via the Internet at www.TulaneGreenWave.com.
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.
Tulane is connecting at a .399 clip from the field in 2011-12, hitting 715-of-1793 shots from the floor and 148-of-519 shots from beyond the 3-point arc (.285), while allowing opponents to shoot .347 overall (625-of-1799) and .276 from 3-point land (132-of-478). Green Wave opponents, meanwhile, are averaging 53.9 points, 35.9 rebounds, 11.2 assists, 10.4 steals and 3.1 blocks per game.
"We certainly felt good about our performance in the conference tournament and gained a lot of confidence along the way," Stockton added. "Just from talking to the team today, I think a lot of them are really excited to play again. I think it's such an important thing that we're playing again so quickly and not losing our momentum."
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.
Prior to conference play, Mississippi Valley played a tough non-conference slate with road games against Arkansas, Baylor Kentucky, Iowa, Iowa State and Nebraska. All six of those teams earned NCAA Tournament appearances.
"I know they had a tremendous non-conference schedule," Stockton said of her team's first-round foe. "I believe they had the No. 1-ranked non-conference schedule for a while and they lost in the semifinals of their tournament. We'll get more on them tomorrow and get ready to play on Thursday."
Tulane is 3-4 all-time in WNIT contests. The 1994 trip to the WNIT marked the Green Wave's first-ever postseason appearance as then-head coach Candi Harvey led her team to a 78-75 win over Louisiana-Monroe in the opening round before dropping 72-66 and 71-66 decisions to Arkansas State and Pittsburgh, respectively. In the 2007 WNIT, Tulane defeated Jackson State 76-43 on March 14 before concluding a 26-7 campaign with a 79-73 loss to Mississippi State on March 18 in Starkville, Miss. Last season, Tulane opened the WNIT with a 61-31 dismantling of Southern on March 17 in Fogelman Arena before wrapping up a 23-11 season with a 92-88 loss at Oral Roberts on March 21.
The winner of the Tulane/Mississippi Valley State contest will advance to take on the winner of the Texas Tech/Eastern Illinois game, which will take place on Thursday in Waco, Texas. Tulane is one of four C-USA teams to earn a spot in the 2012 postseason as UTEP claimed a 13 seed in the NCAA Tournament, Memphis joined the Green Wave in the WNIT, and Rice earned a berth in the Women's Basketball Invitational.