MOUNT PLEASANT, Mich. - For the second consecutive season the Central Michigan women's basketball team will play in college basketball's Women's National Invitational Tournament against Illinois State.
The Chippewas (20-15) will face the Redbirds (18-12), who finished second in the Missouri Valley Conference, in the opening round of the WNIT on Thursday.
It is the second time in program history that the Maroon and Gold will play in back-to-back postseason tournaments. The Chippewas advanced to the NCAA Tournament in 1983 and 1984. CMU advanced to the WNIT for the first time last year, when they fell, 72-59, to ISU.
Five-year head coach Sue Guevara paced CMU to just the fifth 20-win campaign in program history. The Chippewas put together a 4-1 run in the Mid-American Conference Tournament were they fell, 72-71, by a last second Eastern Michigan bucket. Two All-Mid American Conference selections dot the roster in honorable mention Taylor Johnson and Crystal Bradford. Jalisa Olive was named the MAC Sixth Player of the Year while Bradford, Jas'Mine Bracey and Jessica Green were all named to the All-MAC Freshman Team.
The Redbirds had four players receive All-Valley honors. Katie Broadway and Jamie Russell were named to the All-Valley First Team while Candace Sykes and Chloe Nelson earned All-Valley Honorable Mention. ISU fell to Drake in its last outing in the State Farm Missouri Valley Conference Tournament, 56-54. Offensively Katie Broadway, who is averaging 16 points per game, is leading the team, while Candace Sykes is the leader on the boards with her 7.9 rebounds per game.
The Redbirds claimed the last meeting between the two schools, giving them a 7-1 edge in the all-time series.
The WNIT awards an automatic berth to each of the nation's 31 conferences. The spot goes to the team that finishes the highest in the regular-season conference standings that does not advance to the NCAA Tournament. If there is a tie, the WNIT abides by the conference tiebreaker. To be considered for a WNIT automatic or at-large berth, a team must have an overall record of .500 or better.
The WNIT field expanded from 48 to 64 teams in 2010. All games will be played at the home arena of a participating school.
Check back with CMUChippewas.com for more information and continuing coverage throughout the week.