Women host Idaho State in WNIT first round

(Photo by Mark Philbrick/BYU Photo)

With a 21-10 record, BYU women’s basketball has been invited to participate in the 64-team single-elimination 2013 Women’s National Invitational Tournament (WNIT). In their seventh appearance in the tournament, the Cougars will host Idaho State (18-12) Wednesday at 7 p.m. MDT in the Marriott Center. The game will air live on BYUtv.

About 2013 WNIT
The Women’s National Invitation Tournament consists of 64 Division I women’s basketball teams who compete at participating schools including the semifinals and the championships. Every round is single elimination. This year’s field features 36 teams with 20 or more wins.

The Postseason WNIT features 32 first-round games, followed by 16 second-round games, eight third-round games, four quarterfinal games, two semifinal games and the championship. All games are played at campus sites. The title game is scheduled for Saturday, April 6 and will air live on CBS Sports Network.

BYU along with San Diego and Saint Mary’s are the three teams from the West Coast Conference who received invitations to play in this year’s WNIT. The Toreros were the automatic qualifier from the league, while the Cougars and Gaels received at-large berths.

This will be the seventh time that the BYU women’s basketball team has been selected to compete in the postseason tourney. In the WNIT, the Cougars have compiled an 8-6 overall record in six appearances.

The team’s last appearance in the WNIT was during the 2010-11 campaign where they advanced to the third round with wins over Denver and Utah State before falling to runner-up USC.  During the 2009-10 season the Cougars advanced to the Quarterfinals, losing to eventual champion Cal.

Under head coach Jeff Judkins, the women’s basketball program has participated in four postseason WNIT tourneys and five NCAA tournaments.

BYU Capsule
The Cougar team has outrebounded its opponents in 19 of the 31 games played.
The BYU bench has outscored the opponent’s bench 544-421.
When comparing points in the paint, the Cougars have scored 784 points to 652 from opponents.
BYU has had a halftime lead in all but eight games to date (vs. Gonzaga at WCC semifinals, vs. Gonzaga, vs. SD, vs. SMC, at USF, at Gonzaga, vs. Seattle and at Washington State).
In only six contests (vs. Gonzaga at WCC semifinals, vs. Gonzaga, at USF, at Gonzaga, at Boston College and at Washington State) the Cougars did not record more assists than their opponents.
Balanced scoring has added to the team’s success this year. To date, three players have put up double figures in points in 13 games and four players finished with double-digit scoring in five games (at POR, at PEP, vs. PEP, vs. Tulsa, vs. UCSB)

• Head coach: Jeff Judkins (Utah, ‘78), is in his 12th season
• Team’s leading scorer: #5 Jennifer Hamson, 10.6 ppg
• Team’s leading rebounder: #5 Hamson, 8.2 rpg
• Team’s assists leader: #33 Steed, 7.4 apg
• Team’s steals leader: #33 Steed, 2.1 spg

BYU’S PROJECTED STARTING LINEUP
#33 Haley Steed– (5-4 guard, GS.) 10.3 ppg; 4.1 rpg; 7.4 apg
#4 Kim Parker Beeston– (5-11 guard, Jr.) 9.9 ppg; 4.0 rpg; 2.4 apg
#12 Stephanie Vermunt Seaborn – (6-0 guard/forward, Jr.) 7.0 ppg; 2.7 rpg; 1.7 apg
#45 Keilani Unga– (6-2 forward, Sr.) 7.4 ppg; 4.6 rpg; 0.9 apg
#5 Jennifer Hamson– (6-7 center, Jr.) 10.6 ppg; 8.2 rpg; 0.7 apg

IDAHO STATE Capsule
Idaho State finished the 2012-13 regular season with an 18-12 overall record including a 13-7 mark in the Big Sky Conference for a fourth-place tie with Sacramento State.

ISU is making its second-straight postseason appearance and its fourth in the WNIT. Last year Idaho State played in the first round of the NCAA tournament losing to Miami, 70-41. The Bengals are coming off a 73-60 loss to Sacramento State in the quarterfinals of the Big Sky Tournament.

• Head coach: Seton Sobolewski is in his 4th season at Idaho State
• Team’s leading scorer: #22 Ashleigh Vella, 12.3 ppg
• Team’s leading rebounder: #22 Vella, 6.7 rpg
• Team’s assists leader: #22 Vella, 2.7 apg
• Team’s steals leader: #30 Lindsey Reed, 1.2 spg

Series History
BYU leads the series 11-3.

Last Meeting
The last time the two teams met was during the 2006-07 campaign when both programs were selected to play in the Preseason WNIT. In that matchup, played on Nov. 10 in Provo, the Cougars, ranked No. 24 nationally, defeated the Bengals 73-50 and advanced to the final four of the preseason tourney.

In that game, Mallary Gillespie-Carling and Shawnee Slade scored 10 points each. Current assistant coach Melinda Bendall (Johnsen) was a senior on that team and she contributed eight points, dished out three assists, and had a game-high four steals. Haley Steed, who was a freshman on the squad that year, played 18 minutes off the bench scoring eight points and dishing out three assists.

The Cougars shot 47 percent from the field, 45 percent from beyond the arc and 42 percent from the free throw line.

For the Bengals, Natalie Doma recorded a double-double with 14 points and 11 rebounds while Aralee Smith came off the bench to dish out a game-high five assists. ISU shot 33 percent from the field, 19 percent from 3-point range and 55 percent from the charity stripe.

Up Next
A win over Idaho State would advance the Cougars into the second round, which would be played on a campus site March 23-25. They would played the winner of the San Diego State vs. UC Santa Barbara game that is also being played Wednesday night. The championship game will be played on Sat., April 6 at a campus site and will air live on CBS Sports Network at 3 p.m. ET.

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