Fort Collins, Colo. – On the heels of one of the best seasons in program history, the Eastern Washington University women's basketball team has accepted a bid to the WNIT and will play Pac-12 member Washington State this Wednesday, Mar. 18.
The tipoff time will be announced tomorrow, Mar. 17.
EWU (20-11) will appear in the WNIT for the second time in three years and the third time overall under 14-year head coach Wendy Schuller. The Eagles' first appearance came following the 2009-10 season when they won the Big Sky Conference regular season title. Eastern returned to the tournament three years later following its 2012-13 campaign.
"In recent years, going to a postseason tournament has kind of become an expectation for us," Schuller said. "We were disappointed last year when we didn't go, and we put ourselves in a better position this year. We've had some quality wins both in the Big Sky and out of conference, and I'm glad that we're going to have a chance to keep playing."
Eastern's 2014-15 campaign was one for the record books as the Eagles' won 20 games for just the third time in their 33-year history as an NCAA Division I member. The Eagles have a handful of quality wins on their resume, highlighted by nonconference victories over Missouri Valley Conference regular season and tournament champion Wichita State and a true road win over SEC member Florida.
"Our season started on a high note with a win over a great Wichita State team and continued from there," noted Schuller. "We had a few hiccups and bumps in the road, but for the most part, I thought that we had a great season. To win 20 games and get to that landmark point is significant. I'm proud of our team because they've work really hard for everything they've earned this year."
EWU had winning streaks of seven and six games this season, registering two six-game winning streaks in the same year for the first time in school history. Eastern also won 12 Big Sky Conference games for the second consecutive season, finishing tied for third in the league standings.
The Eagles advanced to the semifinals of the Big Sky Tournament last week, falling to host and regular season champion Montana, 55-51, last Friday, Mar. 13. It was EWU's sixth straight visit to the conference tournament. Eastern is just one of four teams to have qualified for the Big Sky Tournament in that span.
"It didn't end the way we would have liked it to in the Big Sky Tournament, but we played extremely hard and tried to put ourselves in a position to win. I love this team and I love their effort. We're excited that we get to continue our season."
Junior Hayley Hodgins was named to the All-Big Sky Tournament Team after averaging 16.0 points on 41.9 percent shooting in Eastern's two games. The First Team All-Big Sky selection went for 22 points in EWU's first-round win over Northern Arizona on Wednesday, Mar. 11.
Seniors Melissa Williams and Lexie Nelson both received All-Big Sky Second Team honors while junior Jade Redmon was an Honorable Mention All-Big Sky selection. Delaney Hodgins was named the league's Outstanding Freshman two years removed from her older sister's claiming of the award following the 2012-13 season.
Eastern is 4-12 all-time against Washington State, including a 2-5 record against the Cougars in Pullman. Schuller is 3-3 all-time against WSU and has won twice in three trips to Pullman. The two teams last met back on Nov. 18, 2007, with Washington State winning, 70-59, at Reese Court.
Washington State (17-14) owns wins over four NCAA RIP top-50 teams in Dayton, Maryland, Gonzaga and Washington, and finished seventh in the Pac-12 with a 7-11 mark.