HOUSTON – For the first time in seven seasons, the Houston Cougar Women’s Basketball team will compete in postseason play, with a berth in the Women’s National Invitational Tournament (WNIT), the organization announced Monday.
“First and foremost, I want to thank God for every opportunity he has given me and this program,” Head Coach Ronald Hughey said. “We’re extremely excited to get an opportunity for postseason play. It’s a testament to all the hard work from our players, our staff and our administration. I can’t say enough about all the hard work and time that everybody has put into this. I’m really excited about the opportunity to continue our season and be able to chase a championship in the WNIT.”
Houston will travel to meet the University of South Dakota, in Vermillion, S.D., on Thursday at 7 p.m., with the showdown being held inside the Sanford Coyote Sports Center. The Cougars and Coyotes will meet for the first time in program history on the hardwood in the First Round. The winner of Thursday’s contest will meet the victor of the matchup between Western Illinois and Colorado State.
The appearance in the WNIT will be the fifth in program history for the Cougars. Houston holds a 5-5 record all-time in the tournament and reached the WNIT Finals during the 2002 campaign after picking up wins over Rice (67-65), Miami (83-67), Valparaiso (61-53) and Virginia Tech (77-72 OT), before falling to the eventual champion Oregon (54-52). The Cougars last made the WNIT during the 2010 season, where they fell 80-77 at Texas Tech.
“Four years ago, nobody could ever imagine where the program was: that in four years we’d be here with 20 wins and an incredible season and going on to play in the postseason with the WNIT,” Hughey said. “I’m just excited for all our kids and our staff.”
The Cougars won 20 games throughout the 2017-18 season, marking the 12th time in program history they have reached that plateau and the first time since the 2010-11 season. Houston tied a program record with 11 wins during the non-conference season, before finishing 9-7 in American Athletic Conference play, placing fifth in their best season since joining the league.
The Coyotes finished the season with a 26-6 record and earned an automatic bid to the 64-team WNIT after finishing as the regular season champions in the Summit League. South Dakota boasted a 20-game winning streak from Dec. 19 through March 5, before falling to South Dakota State 65-50 in the Summit League Championship game.
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