Women extend postseason play to WNIT, men to CBI

By Robert MYERS Sports Editor

Following disappointment in their conference tournaments, the SDSU men’s and women’s basketball teams will have a chance move, having each received an opportunity to play in a postseason tournament.

Late Sunday night, the men received an invitation to the College Basketball Invitational which features a 16-team field that will be single elimination until the championship which will be a best of three series. 

First round action sets the Jackrabbits up against Old Dominion University. The tournament is set at campus sites, meaning SDSU will travel to play there Wednesday, March 19 game in Norfolk, Va. at 7 p.m. ET, 6 p.m. CT.

Old Dominion plays in Conference USA and finished their season 16-17 overall with a 9-7 record in league play, good for sixth in the standings. Their leading scorer, sophomore guard Aaron Bacote, averages 16.1 points per game. He is also their best three-point shooter at almost 36 percent. Overall, SDSU has slightly better numbers shooting and should have a size advantage at most positions.

The women’s team gathered for dinner at the home of head coach Aaron Johnston Monday night to watch the Selection Show. Even so, senior Steph Paluch said that he had made it clear to them that the odds were against them. He turned out to be correct and they are now headed to the Women’s National Invitational Tournament.

In the WNIT, a complicated bidding process determines which team hosts the game, and for their first round matchup against Butler University, the Jackrabbits won out. The game will take place Thursday, March 20 at 7 p.m. in Frost Arena.  For Paluch, there are mixed emotions about the bid.

“It’s exciting [to be playing the WNIT in Frost Arena]. We felt pretty badly about the loss in the Summit League Tournament so that’s not exciting,” Paluch said. “But we have this opportunity in front of us and it’s a good one. I think it would be a shame to let it go by. It’s the one that we have and it can really help us and our program.”

Butler enters the tournament 15-15 overall and 10-8 in Big East play, good for sixth in the league. The Bulldogs split two games with Georgetown whom SDSU beat by six points in November. Another common opponent is Creighton whom the Jacks lost to by five in November and whom the Bulldogs won two of three 




“I think now, specifically, with the focus of Butler and a team to kind of look forward to, I think that this week will be good, just high intensity and a sense of urgency too,” Paluch said about the team’s focus heading into the game. 

“Now there’s not another tournament to play in, so now it’s more of you lose and you’re done, but you win and you keep playing and so that’s what you’re going for.”

The 64-team WNIT field is composed of the top teams left out of the NCAA Tournament, so with SDSU being on the fringe of that tournament, they enter the WNIT as one of the better teams, a team that could potentially challenge for the championship.

“The WNIT is still a great, great tournament with lots of good teams, so even this first game is going to be a challenge. We play well at home so that’ll be nice,” Paluch said. “But that’s the goal, going on a run here and winning some games. We can say that all we want, but actually having to do it will be a good thing and a challenge for us and an exciting challenge that hopefully we can all be ready and step up for.”

The Jacks would face the winner of Creighton and Missouri at a time and location still to be announced, given they defeat the Bulldogs. In the meantime, the Jacks are working to stay focused on the road ahead.

“It’s crunch time, so you can’t take one possession off and expect to win anymore when everyone’s battling and wanting to win,” Paluch said. “Now it’s about doing things right all the time and I think we’re being held to that expectation in practice. … This is the last chance, and this is exciting that we get the opportunity to play at Frost so we’ll take all the support we can get and it’s the last chance to see us play.”

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