If the NCAA Tournament wasn’t attainable, this was the next best thing for the Wichita State women’s basketball team.
The Shockers will host a first-round game in the Women’s National Invitational Tournament against Oral Roberts on Friday at Koch Arena. The Golden Eagles finished second in the Summit League, but lost in the first round of the conference tournament with a 20-10 overall record.
This will be the third straight season Jody Adams has led Wichita to postseason play. Wichita State played in the women’s CBI in 2010, then also qualified for the WNIT last season but did not host a game.
“If you look at the tradition and the history of the program, these things haven’t happened within our program,” said Adams, in her fourth season. “There’s not that tradition of understanding what it’s like to be in the postseason. I think we’re beginning to create that and that’s really exciting.”
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In the latest RPI report released by the NCAA on Sunday, Wichita State (19-12) came in at 111 in the nation. Oral Roberts was five spots behind at 116.
After a 13-18 first season, Adams has led Wichita State to a winning record in the last three seasons with a 54-42 record.
“Anybody that looks at us sees a team that has grown over the past three years,” Adams said. “We were very successful very early on and has the makings of being a great team. We just had an inconsistent season and that’s hurt us at times.”
Adams said raising the difficulty of the non-conference schedule was a beneficial move toward Wichita State hosting a first-round game. Despite going 6-5, the Shockers saw top-level competition that prepared them to eventually tie the school record of a 10-game winning streak.
“I think it brings awareness to your players of what is out there,” Adams said. “Those teams we played are used to being in the NCAA tournament. That’s what we want to do. We want to set those standards. We want to do that each and every year. I do think we’re starting to get to that place where those expectations are there and they are attainable.”
After losing 56-52 to Drake in the Missouri Valley Conference tournament on Sunday, Adams said players returned to Wichita ready to remove that feeling. That it will come at home is even better.
“Anytime we’re able to play in front of our fans, it’s such an advantage,” Adams said. “Our players really appreciated the support we’ve had all year long. We don’t want this to be over. They’re still hungry.”