COOKEVILLE, Tenn. – After more than a week of anticipation, the Tennessee Tech women's basketball team received the call that its season will continue, as it will compete as one of 16 teams in the Women's Basketball Invitational, taking on Akron in the opening round on Thursday night, March 21.
More good news comes from the fact that Tech will host its first-round match-up in the Eblen Center at 6:00 p.m. CT Thursday evening, giving the purple and gold faithful at least one more opportunity to see a Golden Eagle team that went 11-3 on its home court this year.
All tickets will be sold for $10, and can be purchased at the Tennessee Tech ticket office at the main entrance of the Eblen Center, by phone at (931) 372-3940 or by clicking here.
Information on live statistics and video streaming will be released later this week.
In accepting a bid for the WBI, each member of the Tech squad will experience national postseason action for the very first time, and will take part in TTU's first appearance in any such tournament since the 2011-12 season.
The last occasion, which featured a matchup at Bradley, ended in a 74-71 defeat. That clash came as part of Tech's first and only prior appearance in the WBI.
Gaining postseason experience in the WBI puts Tech on the same developmental path as other programs that have used the tournament as a springboard to even greater success in future years.
A recent example can be found in the Rice University women's basketball program.
In 2015-16, Rice went 9-22 in coach Tina Langley's first season, using a roster that included eight underclassmen.
The following season mirrored the turnaround Tech experienced this year, as the Owls completed a 19-13 campaign following their Conference USA Tournament, and accepted an entry into the WBI. Rice would find a rhythm, and rattle off victories over Lamar, UTRGV, and Idaho before topping UNC Greensboro for the tournament championship.
The momentum generated by the WBI crown set up a 22-9 ledger in 2017-18. The Owls would receive a Women's National Invitation Tournament berth for that effort, and take an opening-round victory before a second-round exit.
To quote Tech coach Kim Rosamond, Rice's 2018-19 season has born the fruit of its "process".
The Owls own a 28-3 record, are currently riding a 21-game winning streak, won the C-USA regular-season title with a perfect 16-0 record, and prevailed in the league tournament to earn an automatic NCAA Tournament bid.
While a story like Rice's is far from a guarantee, one thing is for sure about Tech's WBI berth, it makes certain that a very special group – one that could be responsible for the dawn of a new era in Tennessee Tech women's hoops – will reconvene once more on a basketball court, with a chance to bring home a championship.
Akron turned in a 16-14 record this season, with a 7-11 mark in the Mid-American Conference.
The Zips are currently riding a four-game losing skid, with their most recent loss coming by two points, 61-59, to Eastern Michigan in the MAC Tournament.
Senior guard Megan Sefcik leads Akron with 17.1 points per game, followed by 5-foot, 4-inch guard Shaunay Edmonds (11.3 ppg) and 6-2 forward Haliegh Reinoehl (10.1 ppg), the team's other two double-digit scorers.
Reinoehl also leads the club in rebounding with 8.3 per game, with support coming from Ohio native Caitlin Vari (6.8).
Junior guard Shayna Harmon is primarily responsible for facilitating the Zips, dishing out 3.9 assists per game.