WNIT fever strikes SDSU again

Chris Mangan

Chris Mangan

For the second year in a row the Jackrabbit women’s basketball team has been selected for the Women’s National Invitation Tournament and will open at home. But unlike last year, the Jacks will play in the first round.

“When it was announced that we are playing in the first round and hosting I think that was good relief for the players, a little less stress and a little less worry,” head coach Aaron Johnston said.

The Jacks will open against Creighton at 7 p.m., Thursday, March 20. Even though the Bluejays are close to Brookings and have played the Jacks in the past-the last time in 1984-not much is known about them.

“Don’t know anything yet but we’re working on it,” junior forward Jennifer Warkenthien said. “It’s a team that’s local and we have heard of them but we haven’t studied them.”

After being the first transitional team to make the WNIT last year, the Jacks are more familiar with the process.

“I know what is going on,” sophomore forward Maria Boever said. “Last year it was so much to take it on. We are calm but it (is) still exciting.”

The Jacks are one of the hottest teams heading into the tournament having reeled off 12 wins in a row. The team won its past 22 games at home, the third longest home streak in Division I.

“At home we’ve been excellent in our time here. We have won 90 percent at Frost Arena and that is over an eight-year stretch and that’s a really impressive number,” Johnston said.

The WNIT is littered with teams from the power conferences. There are five teams from the Big Ten, four from the Big East and ACC, while the Big 12 has three representatives. With the students on Spring Break and the Jacks going up against some big schools, SDSU was still able to gain enough support to secure a home game.

“The place is going to sell out whether it’s students or fans around the state,” Warkenthien said.

The winner will advance to play Marquette on March 24 in the second round. That game is the only game that doesn’t have a set site so it is still possible that if the Jacks advance SDSU could host a second round game.