(Photo by BYU Photo/Mark Philbrick)
PROVO, Utah—For the 10th time in BYU women’s basketball history, the team will be competing in the NCAA Tournament. The Cougars (26-6) earned an at-large berth as the No. 12 seed in this year’s championships. They will battle No. 5 seed North Carolina State, Saturday at 4:30 p.m. MST at Pauley Pavilion in Los Angeles. The game will air on ESPN2.
This NCAA appearance marks the sixth time BYU head coach Jeff Judkins has guided the women’s program to the NCAA postseason tournament.
The last time the Cougars were in the NCAA tourney was during the 2011-12 season when they received the automatic bid after clinching the West Coast Conference championship with a 78-66 victory over Gonzaga.
During that run BYU entered the tournament as the No. 10 seed and played No. 7 seed DePaul in Chicago. The Cougars and Blue Demons battled in a closely fought game with DePaul getting the 59-55 victory.
North Carolina State (25-7) is making its 22nd appearance in the NCAA Tournament. The No. 16 ranked Wolfpack competes in the Atlantic Coast Conference where they finished the regular season in fourth place with an 11-5 mark, advancing to the semifinals of the league championships.
BYU has a 1-1 record against North Carolina State. Both teams met last during the 2005-06 season in Provo with the Wolpack recording a 67-65 win on Dec. 21, 2005. The previous meeting was in Raleigh on Dec. 14, 2002 when the Cougars picked up the 68-57 win.
The Cougars have played two of the 64 teams that made this year’s NCAA Tournament in Gonzaga, and Cal State Northridge. BYU split the regular season with Gonzaga with each team winning on its home court. The two battled a third time, in the WCC championship game with the Bulldogs picking up the 71-57 win. BYU beat Cal State Northridge 82-66 in California on Nov. 23, 2013.
“First of all, we’re really excited for this opportunity to play in the NCAA Tournament. It’s hard in a small conference to get an at-large bid. It takes a lot of special nights. You’ve got to play a great season the whole year. You can’t have up and downs; you’ve got to be steady and that’s what this team’s done the whole season. I’m really proud of them for that.”
“We’re not here just to get into the tournament, we really want to play our best basketball and hopefully represent this university and our conference the best that we can.”
On North Carolina State:
“This team is very similar to us and they’ll be a great matchup. Hopefully, we’ll be able to do the things that we do best and learn from our last game to improve.”
“I’ve only seen North Carolina State once on TV. I didn’t realize that they have two good bigs. We’ll watch a lot of film tonight and tomorrow and we’ll get ready to go.”
On being a 12 seed:
“I thought we'd be higher, but it really doesn’t make a difference when you look at the whole thing. I’ve been really fortunate in my coaching career to go into a lot of tournaments; it’s who you match up with and what style of basketball they play and that's what it all comes down to.”
“We’re excited to play in LA. It’s not a long trip; I think it’s going to be harder on them. That will be to our advantage, and hopefully we’ll get some BYU fans to the game.”
On going to the NCAA Tournament:
“Going to this tournament is huge. I’ve been there one other time. It’s really special to say that you’re one of the top 64 teams to play and get in. I’m excited, I think our team is really excited. We’re going to work hard to make some noise in the tournament.”
On playing in Los Angeles:
“I’m excited to play pretty close to home. I don’t think it’s too far of a drive. The more fans we can get out there the better. I’m just excited to go to the tournament.”
“We were excited. I was excited to hear our name. This year feels different, and it’s up to us to make it a different year. We’re going to prepare this week and we’re really excited for it.”
On North Carolina State:
“We’ve never seen them play, but our coaches do a really good job at preparing us. We have a few days to prepare and watch a lot of game film, memorize their plays, personnel and we’ll be ready to go.”
On playing at Pauley Pavilion:
“I think it’s a great place to play. It’ll be fun to stay kind of close. It’s not too far away. Two years ago we went all the way to DePaul. This place is close. It will be about us and how we play.”
On being a senior:
“Being a senior this year, I don’t know if I’ll play basketball afterwards. This is kind of our last push. This is a great team to be with and to do that push with, so I’m very excited.”