The Washington State women’s basketball team made history again on Sunday when the Cougars were selected to their second consecutive NCAA tournament.
The Cougars have never before appeared in back-to-back tournaments, and this time around, WSU — which finished the regular season 19-10 and 11-6 in the Pac-12, good for second in the conference — is an 8 seed and will face ninth-seeded Kansas State in the first round on Saturday in Raleigh, North Carolina. They are located in the Bridgeport region.
Game time will be announced later.
If the Cougars should win — which would be yet another first for the program, which does not yet have an NCAA tournament victory — they would advance to likely face No. 1 seed North Carolina State, which plays the winner of No. 16s Longwood and Mount Saint Mary’s. The Cougars have already played NC State (29-3, No. 3 in the AP poll) this season, losing big to the Wolfpack at a holiday tournament in the Bahamas.
But first, WSU will have to figure out a way to get past Kansas State. The Wildcats finished the season 19-12 and 9-9 in the Big 12. They also were rated quite a bit higher than WSU in the NET rankings (37 to 58), and featured wins over NET No. 6 Baylor and No. 12 Oregon.
Coach Kamie Ethridge has orchestrated a remarkable turnaround at WSU, which has traditionally been one of the worst Power 5 programs in the country. Last season’s NCAA tournament appearance was the first in 30 years; making it to two in a row is another step.
The Cougs’ resumé was powered by a high volume of wins that was strengthened early with a win over NET No. 25 Gonzaga and then punctuated by a late-season upset of Arizona. The Wildcats ended up as a No. 4 seed.
Getting a win in the NCAA tournament would would be the biggest statement yet that the Cougs are burgeoning into a force to be reckoned with under Ethridge.