Big Sky Conference

Northern Colorado earns No. 10 seed, will play Michigan; Vandals, Wildcats get postseason bids

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OGDEN, Utah (March 12, 2018) – Big Sky women’s basketball champion Northern Colorado earned a 10 seed and will make its first-ever NCAA Tournament appearance against No. 7 Michigan. The Bears will begin tournament play in Waco, Texas on Friday (March 16) at 4 p.m. CT.

Northern Colorado received the automatic bid into the tournament after defeating Idaho 91-69 in the Big Sky championship game. Also, UNC’s 10 seed is the highest seed received by a Big Sky program since Montana earned a No. 9 seed in the 1997 NCAA Tournament.

The Bears will be led into the NCAA Tournament by Big Sky MVP Savannah Smith, the conference’s Defensive Player of the Year Kianna Williams and Big Sky Coach of the Year Kamie Ethridge.

Northern Colorado senior Savannah Scott/ by Brooks Nuanez

A Big Sky school hasn’t won an NCAA tournament game since 1995 when No. 12 Montana defeated No. 5 San Diego State 57-46.

Northern Colorado (26-6) vs. Michigan (22-9) will be aired on ESPN2. The winner will face either No. 2 Baylor or No. 15 Grambling.

Idaho headed to the WNIT

Idaho will continue its season and enter the postseason for the third consecutive year, participating in the Women’s National Invitational Tournament (WNIT) to play at UC Davis (25-6) on Thursday at 6 p.m. PT in the first-round opener. 

Idaho secured the Big Sky’s automatic bid into the WNIT for being the highest-ranking conference team that didn’t make it into the NCAA Tournament. Idaho competed as the No. 2 seed in the Big Sky Tournament after it recorded a conference record of 13-5.

The Vandals are led by a trio of sharp shooters, including senior Geri McCorkell (16.8 ppg) and juniors Mikayla Ferenz (22.6 ppg) and Taylor Pierce (15.5 ppg). Idaho finished with an overall record of 19-13, after making a run to the Big Sky Championship game where it fell to No. 1-seeded Northern Colorado.

Idaho guard Taylor Pierce (14)/by Brooks Nuanez

During Idaho’s Big Sky semifinal matchup with Portland State, Pierce hit a record nine 3-pointers, which sets a new mark for the most 3-pointers made during a single tournament game. In that same game, Idaho’s 31 assists broke the record of 29 set by the Vandals in the 1985 tournament against Weber State. 

First-round action in the WNIT begins Wednesday, March 14 and continues through Friday, March 16. Round 2 games take place March 17-20; Round 3 games are March 21-23, Round 4 runs March 24-26, and the semifinals are March 28-29. The championship game will be held at 3 p.m. ET on March 31, and televised on CBS Sports Network. All games are hosted by participating schools.

The tournament will feature five teams from both the Atlantic 10 and Big Ten. There are four teams from Conference USA and the Mountain West; three teams each come from the American, Big 12, Big East, Colonial, Horizon and MAC.

Weber State headed to the CBI

Weber State will prolong its season a little longer and enter the 16-team Women’s Basketball Invitational (WBI). The Wildcats will travel to Houston, Texas and play Texas Southern on Thursday (March 15) at 7 p.m. CT.

Weber State fell in its Big Sky quarterfinal matchup to No. 5 Idaho State as a No. 4 seed in the highest scoring women’s tournament game in Big Sky history. Weber State enters the WBI as the highest-scoring offense in the Big Sky, averaging 76.8 points per game.

Idaho State’s Estafania Ors and Dora Goles dive for a loose ball against Weber State’s Jaiamoni Welch-Coleman

Created in 2009, the WBI is a 16-team tournament arranged by Sport Tours International. Open to teams that did not make the field of the NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament and the Women’s National Invitational Tournament, it has featured champions from the Horizon League, Big 10 and Conference USA. Games are played on campus sites, with the higher-seeded team hosting.

Teams are picked for the WBI Tournament based on RPI, record, conference standings, end of year performance, and quality wins and losses.

Idaho State declines CBI bit, season ends

Idaho State will not play in the postseason after declining an offer to play in the WBI, according to a report from the Idaho State Journal. ISU awaited an offer to play in the WNIT but an invitation to the 64-team tournament never came. The Bengals lost to Northern Colorado in the semifinals of the Big Sky Tournament last week to end their season with a 21-11 record, the third-best in the Big Sky. The Bengals have an RPI of 142, the fourth-best among Big Sky members.

 

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