Kansas Women To Play 2009 WNIT In Allen Fieldhouse

March 16, 2009


WNIT Bracket in PDF Format

The University of Kansas women’s basketball team, under fifth-year head coach Bonnie Henrickson, has been selected to play in the postseason Women’s NIT for the second-consecutive season. The Jayhawks will play the winner of the first-round game between UC Riverside and Creighton on Monday, March 23 in Allen Fieldhouse at 7 p.m. UC Riverside and Creighton will play their first-round game on Saturday, March 21 at Creighton.

The postseason appearance is Kansas’ third under Henrickson and the 19th in school history. The Jayhawks, who went 1-1 in last season’s WNIT with a win over Evansville at home and road loss to Michigan State, also played in the WNIT in 2006, picking up a win over Northern Iowa in the opening round of action before falling to Ole Miss in its second game. Both games were played in Allen Fieldhouse.

UC Riverside (19-11, 14-2 Big West) advanced to the WNIT after receiving the automatic bid out of the Big West Conference. The Highlanders, led by Big West Player of the Year, forward Kemie Nkele, finished second place in the league behind UC Santa Barbara. Nkele, who also was tabbed the conference’s Defensive Player of the Year, averages team highs in points with 18.4 per game and rebounds with 8.1 a game. Senior guard Seyram Gbewonyo is also in double figures with 10.6 points per game.

Creighton (21-11, 14-4 MVC) will play in the 2009 WNIT after narrowly missing an opportunity to play in the NCAA Championship after being edged in the final seconds of the Missouri Valley Conference Tournament by Evansville on Sunday afternoon. The Bluejays, who Kansas defeated 59-58 in overtime in December, are led on the season by junior guard Chevelle Herring who turns in 13.6 points per game. Sophomore guard Kelsey Woodard and junior forward Megan Neuvirth are also in double figures with 12.6 points per game a piece. Neuvirth was recently tabbed first team All Missouri Valley Conference and was also the league’s Defensive Player of the Year.

KU has made two appearances in the WNIT under its current format, and has also played in the NWIT twice — in 1978 and 1991 — when it was an eight-team tournament. The NWIT later went to 16 teams until its final year of 1996. There was no NWIT in 1997. In 1998, the tournament was brought back under the new name WNIT and in 1999, the field expanded to 32 teams. This is the second year the tournament will include 48 teams.

The Jayhawks earned the Big 12 Conference’s automatic bid to the WNIT after posting an 18-13 overall record. The mark is the highest number of wins under Henrickson, and marks the third post-season appearance for her as the KU head coach in her five seasons in Lawrence. KU won five of its last seven games on the season, including victories over Big 12 Championship winner and fifth-ranked Baylor and No. 19 Iowa State.

Adult tickets for Monday’s game are $5; youth tickets are $4. Admission is free for any KU student with a valid ID. Tickets can be purchased by calling 1-800-34HAWKS or by visiting the Kansas Athletics website at www.kuathletics.com.