March 16, 2009
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. --- New Mexico women's basketball will open the Women's National Invitational Tournament (WNIT) Wednesday at 7 p.m. MT against Southern University inside The Pit. The Lobos earned a berth into the WNIT for the first time since the 2001 season. New Mexico has reached the post-season 12 straight years and will be making its fourth appearance in the WNIT Wednesday. The game will be broadcast live on 610 AM The Sports Animal. Gametracker and live video streaming will be available on www.GoLobos.com.
All tickets for the WNIT will be $10 and parking will be $5.
New Mexico last appearance in the WNIT was in 2001 when the Lobos advanced to the championship game against Ohio State. UNM advanced further in that postseason than ever before and played every game inside The Pit. The Lobos lost to the Buckeyes, 62-61, in front of a sellout crowd of 18,018.
UNM is 6-3 all-time in the WNIT and have never played a WNIT outside of The Pit. The Lobos back three consecutive trips to the WNIT from 1999-01 and had made every NCAA Tournament since that point.
The last game New Mexico played in the WNIT was against the Buckeyes from Ohio State on March 24, 2001. The Lobos were led by sophomore Jordan Adams who scored 20 points while senior Miranda Sanchez had a double-double with 13 points and11 rebounds. The WNIT final was current Lobo color analysis Nikki Heckroth's final collegiate game. She played 39 minutes recording five points, six assists and three rebounds.
WNIT History Breakdown
New Mexico 81, Pepperdine 69 (Albuquerque, N.M.)
New Mexico 68, Washington 63 (Albuquerque, N.M.)
Drake 73, New Mexico 60 (Albuquerque, N.M.)
Long Beach State 87, New Mexico 63 (Albuquerque, N.M.)
New Mexico 72, Houston 49 (Albuquerque, N.M.)
New Mexico 75, Arizona 62 (Albuquerque, N.M.)
New Mexico 77, UAB 55 (Albuquerque, N.M.)
New Mexico 68, Hawai'i 43 (Albuquerque, N.M.)
Ohio State 62, New Mexico 61 *Championship Game (Albuquerque, N.M.)
Postseason WNIT Tournament Overview The Women's National Invitation Tournament is an annual tournament involving 48 of the nation's top women's Division I basketball teams. All games, including the semifinals and championship, are hosted by participating schools at their home facility. Every round is single elimination.
WNIT Format The Postseason WNIT features 16 first-round games, followed by 16 second-round games, eight third-round games, four quarterfinal games, two semifinal games, and the championship. The championship game is televised. The event offers 31 automatic berths, one to each conference, and 17 at-large berths.
Here are the probable dates for each round:
Round 1 March 18-20
Round 2 March 21-24
Round 3 March 25-27
Quarterfinals March 28-30
Semifinals April 1-2
Championship 2 p.m. ET April 4
2009 Postseason WNIT
The 48-team tournament is a single-elimination event with all games played at sites of host schools. The WNIT is committed to offering deserved opportunities to women's basketball programs, and the tournament expanded to 48 teams in 2007. For the first time in history, each of the nation's 31 conferences was guaranteed a spot in the Postseason WNIT. At the same time, those automatic berths did not affect the number of deserving at-large teams, which has stayed around 17 throughout the years.
The WNIT offers teams an opportunity to get more practices in, to experience playoff-atmosphere games, and to play in front of passionate fans.
Teams also use the Postseason WNIT as a jumping-board to their next season's success. For example:
The Lobos are 22-10 on the season and reached the semifinals of the 2009 Mountain West Conference Championship last week. New Mexico has reached the 20-win plateau for the ninth straight season and the 11th under the direction of head coach Don Flanagan. Junior Amy Beggin is averaging 15.2 points per game and currently leads the Lobos in scoring. Senior Angela Hartill, who has scored in double figures the last 10 games, is chipping in 11.7 points and 5.0 rebounds per game. Senior Amanda Adamson and sophomore Amanda Best are tied for the team lead in rebounding with 5.4 per game.
Beggin is closing in on the 1,000-point milestone. Beggin enters the Southern game with 995 points and is averaging 10.2 points during her career. Beggin will be the sixth junior to accomplish the mark and the first since Dionne Marsh. She will become the 16th player all-time at New Mexico to reach the mark. The Maplewood, Minn., native, had 16 points in the semifinals of the MWC Championship last Friday against Utah. Beggin was named to the All-MWC Tournament team after averaging 18 points in three games.
New Mexico is 16-2 inside The Pit this season and is averaging 8,069 fans per game. The Lobos highest home crowd this season was 9,544 against TCU on Jan. 25, 2009. The last time UNM hosted a WNIT game it was a sellout (18,018) against Ohio State in the championship game on March 24, 2001. The last sellout for the Lobos was in 2004 against UNLV on "Pack The Pit" night.
It has been a remarkable turnaround for New Mexico since Don Flanagan took over. The Lobos are 305-136 during Flanagan's tenure at UNM. Flanagan has guided New Mexico to 12 straight postseason tournaments and will be making his fourth appearance in the WNIT, first since 2001. Flanagan is 6-3 all-time in the WNIT and is 9-11 all-time in the postseason.
New Mexico finished the season 6-4 over the last 10 games and reached the semifinals of the MWC Championship last week. The Lobos are 13-3 in non-conference play this season and were 9-7 during conference action.
UNM has played nine WNIT games in the history of the game and all have been inside The Pit. Following is a breakdown of the top five scorers in WNIT action for New Mexico. Former Lobo Jordan Adams is team's all-time leading scorer during the WNIT with 100 points in six games (16.6 ppg). Adams has the record for most points scored in a WNIT for UNM with 20 and accomplished the mark twice during the 2001 tournament.
1. Jordan Adams (16.6 ppg)
2. Miranda Sanchez (14.4 ppg)
3. Chelsea Grear (10.0 ppg)
4. Sonya Bryant (9.0 ppg)
5. Nikki Heckroth (6.6 ppg)
New Mexico still holds records in the WNIT. The Lobos hold the attendance record after 18,018 fans packed The Pit on March 24, 2001 for the WNIT Championship game against Ohio State. UNM holds three of the top 10 spots for single-game attendance all-time in the WNIT. The Lobos are still tied for the most blocks in a WNIT with 27 set in 2001. New Mexico recorded 27 rejects during the 2001 tournament including 14 from Jordan Adams. Adams had seven blocks in the championship game against the Buckeyes.
Don Flanagan and the Lobos faced a familiar face in the last WNIT appearance. Beth Burns, who is the current head coach at San Diego State, was the head coach at Ohio State in 2001. Burns guided the Buckeyes to 22-11 record that season. Burns was named the MWC Coach of the Year this year by the league coaches.
Wednesday will be the final game win or lose inside The Pit for Lobo women's basketball before the renovations take place. If the UNM gets past Southern in the opening round of the WNIT, the Lobos will be on the road for the remainder of the tournament due to the NCAA Women's first and second rounds, the Professional Bull Riders event and the start of the renovations. New Mexico would go to Nebraska in the second round either Saturday - Monday if they win.
Southern is 16-13 overall and was 11-7 in the Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC). The Jaguars fell in the SWAC Championship to Prairie View A&M, 74-49. SU finished second in the SWAC and earned the automatic WNIT berth after Prairie View A&M earned the automatic NCAA berth.
Deidra Jackson leads Southern with 12.2 points per game and is the only Jaguar averaging in double figures. Jackson has started 24 of 29 games this season. Southern uses a steady rotation of 10 players during the game and is 5-8 on the road this year.