March 15, 2010
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. --- The New Mexico women's basketball team has earned a bid into the 2010 Women's National Invitation Tournament (WNIT) as announced Monday night. The Lobos will open the postseason Wednesday against Southern Methodist University (SMU) at 7 p.m. MT inside The Pit. New Mexico has made 13 straight postseason tournaments under head coach Don Flanagan. The Lobos are 18-12 overall and face the 20-10 Mustangs in the opening round. The game will be broadcast on 610 AM The Sports Animal with GameTracker and Live Video Streaming available on GoLobos.com.
New Mexico is making its fifth appearance in the WNIT and enter the tournament with a 9-4 record. The Lobos last appeared in the WNIT last year when they reached the elite eight. UNM went 3-1 last year in the WNIT with victories over Southern, Nebraska, Oregon State and lost to Kansas. Don Flanagan is 9-4 all-time when coaching in the WNIT.
The 2010 WNIT is a field of 64 with 31 automatic bids and 33 at-large. The top team of each conference that did not make the NCAA Tournament earns the automatic bid. BYU earned the automatic bid from the MWC. This is the first year the WNIT has expanded to 64 teams adding 16 more bids. This is the 13th year of the postseason WNIT. Wyoming is the only MWC team to ever win the WNIT in 2007. South Florida won last year's tournament.
The winner of the New Mexico - SMU game will face the winner of the Oregon - Eastern Washington game. That game will be played at Oregon Thursday evening.
Here are the dates of future rounds. Round 1: March 17-19, Round 2: March 20-22, Round 3: March 24-26, Round 4: March 27-29, Semifinals: March 31-1 and the championship game is set for Saturday, April 3.
UNM has never played a WNIT game outside the Albuquerque area. Last year, New Mexico played three games in Rio Rancho, N.M., at the Santa Ana Star Center. The Lobos could host the first two WNIT games in The Pit this year.
The Lobos are 1-2 all-time against SMU but won the only home game with the Mustangs 68-61 on Feb. 6, 1997. SMU won the series opener 66-45 on Jan. 12, 1997 and won the last meeting 53-45 on March 5, 1999. Flanagan is 1-2 against SMU.
New Mexico hold the all-time attendance record for the postseason WNIT. The record is 18,018 set in the championship game of 2001 when Ohio State played inside The Pit. UNM also holds the eighth and ninth spots for best attendance figures all-time in the WNIT. In 1999, UNM host Drake in the quarterfinals for the eighth best with 11,213 fans. The ninth best game is 11,090 in 2001 when the Lobos hosted Hawai'i in the semifinals. The Lobos also hold the record for most blocks in a tournament with 27.
The Lobos are coming off the 2010 Conoco Women's Mountain West Conference Championship. UNM defeated Colorado State 67-54 in the opening round but dropped another heartbreaker to Utah 51-45 on the season day.
The MWC had two teams earn NCAA bids including TCU and San Diego State. Four conference teams reached the WNIT in BYU, Utah, Wyoming and New Mexico. This postseason six of the nine conference teams will be participating.
New Mexico continues its pursuit of 20 wins. The Lobos enter the postseason two wins shy of the 20-win plateau. UNM has had at least 20 wins for nine consecutive seasons.
UNM is 11-6 when playing inside The Pit and has won its last two games at home. The last victory for the Lobos at home was a 62-30 rout of BYU on Senior Day.
Senior Amy Beggin leads New Mexico in scoring with 12.9 points per game. Beggin had five points in the last game against Utah. She is a three-time all-MWC selection who leads New Mexico with 60 3-pointers, 97 assists and is shooting 83.2 percent from the free throw line.
New Mexico dropped its last game 51-45 against Utah in overtime. The Lobos battled the Utes on a neutral court at the MWC Championship. The Lobos were led by senior Eileen Weissmann who had 15 points while sophomore Sara Halasz chipped in 14. UNM shot 27.5 percent against Utah and struggled to stop freshman Taryn Wicijowski. Wicijowski, who was the MWC Freshman of the Year, scored a game-high 22 points. New Mexico did hit eight 3-pointers in the game but could not overcome the Utes. Utah has won eight straight against the Lobos.
SMU is 20-10 on the year and has three players averaging in double figures. The Mustangs won four of their last five games but were knocked out of the Conference USA Championship in the first round by UAB 64-55. SMU is 5-6 on the road this season and 0-2 against Mountain West Conference opponents. The Mustangs lost to TCU (84-66) and Utah (72-58) this year.
Brittany Gilliam is the leading scorer with 14.7 points per game. Gilliam is also pulling down 6.2 rebounds per contest. Jillian Samuels is second on the team in scoring with 11.6 points while Christine Elliott is the top rebounder and third scorer. Elliott is grabbing 8.1 rebounds and scoring 10.9 points per game. SMU has seven ladies averaging over 6.1 points per game.
Tickets can be purchased through the UNM ticket office at 505-925-LOBO or online at GoLobos.com.