NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Despite a tough loss in the program's first trip to the OVC Championship game, the Belmont women's basketball team earned a postseason automatic bid. The Bruins are waiting seeding in the 2014 Postseason WNIT, their first postseason berth since 2007, next week.
In its former incarnation as the National Women's Invitational Tournament (NWIT), Belmont made six consecutive trips from 1971 to 1977, in spite of only being founded in 1968. The Bruins last appeared in the WNIT in 2006, facing off against current Ohio Valley Conference foe Tennessee Tech. BU was edged at the buzzer, 56-55, in Cookeville.
The Postseason WNIT features 32 first-round games, followed by 16 second-round games, eight third-round games, four quarterfinal games, two semifinal games, and the championship. The event offers 31 automatic berths, one to each established conference, and 33 at-large berths. The 64-team tournament is a single-elimination event with all games played at sites of host schools. The Postseason WNIT will open with first-round games Wednesday through Friday, March 19-21. The event culminates Saturday, April 5 with the championship game, which will be broadcast live on CBS Sports Network.
"We are grateful for the opportunity to continue playing in the postseason. Since Coach Cam arrived at Belmont, we have worked extremely hard and it is clearly paying off," said junior transfer Taylor Mills (Corryton, Tenn.), who is in her first season as a Bruin. "It's awesome to be on the first Belmont women's team to make the WNIT since 2006 and we are excited to start playing."
Belmont's lone senior on the roster, Molly Ernst (Louisville, Ky.) shared similar sentiments. "We're all so excited to have the opportunity to play in the WNIT. For me personally, seeing how this program has evolved over the past four years has been amazing. There is nothing like postseason college basketball."
The Bruins, in their first year under head coach Cameron Newbauer, returned to the OVC Tournament for a second consecutive season. After earning a double-bye with a No. 2 seed, BU defeated No. 6 Jacksonville State, 65-50, to advance to the conference finals for the first time. Belmont was held off by eventual champion UT Martin, who held the No. 1 seed.
"Definitely still hurting from the loss we took against UT Martin, but we were excited to be in the position we were in," said junior guard Adrienne Tarrence (Bowling Green, Ky.) "Just being able play in the championship game was such an amazing and memorable experience. We're looking forward to playing in the WNIT and honored that we were invited. The opportunity to continue playing with the group we have this year is something I wouldn't pass up."
Redshirt freshman Frankie Joubran (Detroit, Mich.) agreed. "This is a great opportunity for us to rise to another challenge. Based on how we played in the championship game, I think we're ready for that challenge."
The announcement of the 64-field WNIT will occur late Monday night on the WNIT's website, womensnit.com.