Wednesday , March 14, 2018 - 5:00 AM
OGDEN — After a heartbreaking loss in the Big Sky tournament, Weber State women’s basketball will continue its season after accepting an invitation to the Women’s Basketball Invitational (WBI) on Monday.
The Wildcats (20-10) will travel to Houston to play Texas Southern (19-12) in the first round.
The WBI is a 16-team tournament with a field selected for teams with strong overall records.
In the Big Sky quarterfinals last week, WSU built a 25-point lead in the third quarter against Idaho State but the Bengals mounted a comeback for a 113-109 overtime win.
“It was definitely a tale of two halves,” head coach Bethann Ord said in the postgame interview. “We came out screaming and played a terrific first half, but as we know, it’s a four-quarter game.”
After the heartbreaking loss in Reno, the Wildcats have been given another chance.
“I am so excited to have another opportunity with these girls,” Ord said. “They have worked so hard and have been so positive all season. That loss in the Big Sky was so hard, but this extra opportunity is just so awesome for this program.”
The Texas Southern Tigers went 13-5 in the Southwestern Athletic Conference. The No. 2 seed in the SWAC lost to No. 3 Grambling State 66-59 in the tournament semifinals.
The only team Weber has faced in the WBI field is Fresno State, who defeated the Wildcats 81-78 on Dec. 20, 2017. Those two wouldn’t meet until the semifinals if each wins to that point.
“The next few days are all about practice and preparation,” Ord said. “I am lucky to have an amazing staff who jump right on it. I focus on our team, one coach will focus on the team we are playing and the other two focus forward.”
The Wildcats played in the WBI in 2016, defeating New Mexico and North Dakota on the road, USC Upstate in Ogden, the losing at Louisiana in double overtime in the championship game.
“Being able to play in the WBI again is awesome,” said senior Kailie Quinn, who — along with Jocelyn Adams, Emily Drake and Jaiamoni Welch-Coleman — played in the WBI two years ago. “Waiting to hear about the tournament was nerve-wracking — knowing whether or not we were going to get in. I am thankful our season isn’t over yet.”
Larryn Brooks, WSU’s leading scorer, is anxious to see a postseason opportunity and continue her college basketball career with Weber State.
“Nobody wants this season to end,” Brooks said. “I think this postseason opportunity is so great for this program, especially the young ones on this team. This is especially exhilarating for us seniors to keep our dreams alive, and we have the fire to do so.”
Quinn explained the team’s motto — relentless, selflessness and passion — as they enter the tournament.
“Relentless is never giving up no matter the circumstance and pushing through it all,” Quinn said. “Selfless is being able to make that extra pass and know you are playing for a team and not just yourself.
“Being passionate is playing like you love the game and every game is your last.”
Weber State’s game tips at 6 p.m. MDT Thursday, March 15. The winner plays the winner of Central Arkansas and Southern Illinois-Edwardsville on either March 18 or 19.
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