Illini to Host Miami (OH) Thursday in WNIT Opener
March 18, 2013
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - The University of Illinois has been selected to participate in the 2013 Women's National Invitation Tournament (WNIT) and will host Miami (Ohio) in the tournament's first round at the Assembly Hall at 7 p.m. on Thursday, March 21. The game time will be announced Tuesday. It will be the Illini's first postseason appearance in the last three years and eighth appearance in the WNIT. Illinois last participated in the WNIT in 2010, reaching the quarterfinal round.
All tickets will be general-admission seating, with public tickets available for $6 and student tickets for $4. Fans can purchase tickets at the Illinois Ticket Office at Assembly Hall or by phone at 1-866-ILLINI-1.
"We're glad to be playing at home," Illinois head coach Matt Bollant said. "Miami is a talented team and they have a very good guard in Courtney Osborn, who has made 90 three-pointers this year, and their team shoots 35 percent from the three-point line. Osborn also has 143 assists, so she makes a lot of plays for them. We hope our great fans will come out and support our team as we try to make a run in the WNIT."
The Illinois-Miami winner will face the winner of Wednesday's Missouri-Eastern Illinois game in the second round, with the location and date to be determined. The Fighting Illini are able to host future rounds of the WNIT. Second-round dates are March 23-25, while the third round will be played March 27-29. The quarterfinals will be held March 30-April 1, with the semifinals taking place April 3-4. The WNIT championship will be April 6 at 2 p.m. CT with CBS Sports Network providing a national television broadcast. All games will be played on campus sites.
Illinois (16-13) is the Big Ten's automatic qualifier into the WNIT, having finished tied for fifth in the conference standings with Michigan. With six Big Ten teams (Iowa, Michigan, Michigan State, Nebraska, Penn State, Purdue) being selected to the NCAA Tournament on Monday, the Illini became the next-highest conference finisher available, making them the league's automatic qualifier. Minnesota is the only other Big Ten team in the WNIT with an 18-13 overall record. The Gophers finished tied for eighth in the conference standings.
The Orange and Blue return to the WNIT for the eighth time in school history, following appearances in 2001, 2002, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008 and 2010. Illinois has an all-time record of 8-7 in the tournament after going 3-1 in the 2010 event with wins over Western Kentucky, Marquette and Missouri State before losing to Illinois State in the WNIT quarterfinals. The Illini qualified for the postseason for the first time since 2010 after winning a combined 20 games over the previous two seasons. Illinois features first-team All-Big Ten senior forward Karisma Penn and Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year and All-Big Ten second team senior guard Adrienne Godbold.
The WNIT is in its fourth season as a 64-team tournament after expanding from a 48-team field that it had from 2007-09. It was a 40-team tournament in 2006, a 32-team event from 1999-2005 and a 16-team tourney in its inaugural year of 1998. The top regular-season finisher in each of the nation's 31 conferences that did not earn an NCAA Tournament berth was slated to receive an automatic bid to the WNIT, with 29 of those schools accepting bids. The field was completed with 35 at-large teams.
Miami (OH) (19-12) is an at-large qualifier from the Mid-American Conference, and one of five MAC schools in the field. The Redhawks finished 10-6 in the MAC, earning the No. 6 seed in the conference tournament, where they beat Ohio in the first round before falling to seventh-seeded Buffalo. Osborn was a first-team All-MAC selection, while senior forward Kirsten Olowinski was a second-team pick.