The Missouri State Lady Bears will play postseason basketball for a fourth consecutive season, opening play in the 2018 Women’s National Invitation Tournament (WNIT) Thursday at Louisiana Tech. The WNIT will announce the game time on Tuesday. The winner of Thursday’s game will play either TCU or Lamar at a site and date to be determined.
The Lady Bears (20-11, 15-3) finished second in the Missouri Valley Conference, qualifying automatically for the WNIT as the highest-finisher in the MVC regular-season standings not selected to the NCAA Tournament. This marks MSU’s 22nd trip to a postseason tournament in 36 Division I seasons.
Louisiana Tech is 19-11 overall and finished in a four-way tie for third place in Conference USA with a 10-6 league mark. The Lady Bears lead 2-1 in the all-time series between two stories programs, earning a home 62-53 home win in November 2010 and 78-65 victory in the 2011 season opener in Ruston. The Lady Techsters beat MSU in the 1993 Sweet 16.
The Lady Bears are making their eighth WNIT appearance, and own a 10-6 record in the event, with 14 of those games taking place in Springfield. MSU dropped an overtime decision to Eastern Kentucky in the opening round of the 2002 meet, then swept the WNIT field with five straight victories in 2005 to claim their first national tournament title.
In 2010, the Lady Bears knocked off Oral Roberts and Samford before falling to Illinois in the third round at JQH Arena, and defeated Rice before falling to Arkansas in the second round in 2011. In 2012, MSU defeated UMKC and Memphis at JQH Arena before losing at eventual champion Oklahoma State in the third round. Missouri State lost to Tulsa in the 2015 first round and at Iowa in last season’s tournament opener.
The 64-team, single-elimination WNIT consists of 32 automatic berths and 32 at-large selections, with all games played at host school sites. An automatic bid is offered to each established Division I conference to the team that finished highest during the regular season and did not receive a bid to the NCAA Tournament. The 32 at-large bids are filled by the available at-large teams in the nation, as determined by the selection committee, regardless of conference or geographical location.
Dates for the 2018 WNIT include first-round games on March 14-16, second-round contests on March 17-20, third-round match-ups on March 21-23, quarterfinal games on March 24-26, semifinal pairings on March 28-29, and the championship game on March 31. For more information, including a complete listing of game times and dates for the 2018 WNIT, visit the website at www.womensnit.com.