Washington women headed to WNIT
The Huskies will face Cal Poly on Wednesday at Edmundson Pavilion.
Seattle Times staff reporter
WNIT first round: Cal Poly @ Washington, time TBA
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The wait seemed nearly as long as Washington's absence from postseason play.
Late Monday evening, the Huskies discovered their season would continue via the 64-team Women's National Invitational Tournament, playing Cal Poly in the opening round Wednesday at Edmundson Pavilion. Game time was still to be announced.
Washington will be joined in the WNIT by Pac-12 rivals Arizona State, Oregon State, Colorado and Utah.
The Huskies advanced to the second round of the inaugural Women's Basketball Invitational in 2010, but their last traditional postseason appearance was a first-round loss in the NCAA tournament in 2007.
The Huskies (17-13) practiced Monday afternoon in anticipation of a postseason announcement. Without an opponent to plan for, first-year coach Kevin McGuff kept the focus on correcting mistakes made in the Huskies' Pac-12 tournament run last week. The team lost to eventual champion Stanford in the second round.
"For them to continue on and get to play in the WNIT is a really exciting thing for them," McGuff said of his players. "Looking at (Cal Poly's) profile, we'll have our hands full but we're looking forward to the challenge."
The Mustangs (17-14), Big West regular-season champions, are led by forward Kristina Santiago, who averages 23.3 points and 10.1 rebounds. The senior ranks sixth nationally in scoring.
Wednesday will mark the first meeting between the schools, but Washington was 3-1 against Big West opponents this season.
"We took some time off and did a lot of running, wanted to get our legs back under us," McGuff said of Monday's practice. "It was a good practice, high-spirited."
Seattle University will cap its most successful run under third-year coach Joan Bonvicini with a berth in the WBI. The Redhawks (18-11), top-seeded in the West Region, are slated to play North Dakota (21-10) Thursday at the Connolly Center.
The Fighting Sioux defeated Utah Valley State 69-56 on Saturday to win their first Great West Conference tournament championship.
Seattle U is 1-4 all-time against North Dakota. In the teams' the most recent meeting, the Redhawks lost 66-42 loss at KeyArena in 2010.
"For where our program is right now, we're very pleased to be in the WBI," Bonvicini said. "We're 10 games ahead of where we were a year ago and want to keep improving."
This marks Seattle U's first postseason appearance since beginning its transition back to Division I classification in 2008. The Redhawks will be NCAA-tournament eligible next year, joining the Western Athletic Conference.
Jayda Evans: 206-464-2067 or email@example.com