Rice Owls Play at Missouri State in the WNIT

March 14, 2011

Rice (18-13) at Missouri State (23-10)
2011 Women's National Invitational Tournament
Thur., March 17, 2011 • 7:05 p.m. (CT)
JQH Arena (11,000) • Springfield, Mo.

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The Rice Owls women's basketball team is in post-season play for the 10th time in the program's history when it earned Conference USA's automatic bid to the Women's National Invitational Tournament.

The Owls will play at Missouri State on Thursday. Game times for the WNIT will be announced Tuesday, March 15 by the WNIT. The winner of the Rice-Missouri State contest plays the winner of the Lamar at Arkansas game.

"I'm just really happy for our team and for our seniors," commented Owl head coach Greg Williams. "It is our third post-season appearance and I'm excited about the opportunity to be playing Missouri State."

This is the Owls' seventh appearance in the WNIT and third under Williams in six seasons.

The Lady Bears, from the Missouri Valley Conference, posted an overall record of 23-10 and 12-6 in MVC action. Casey Garrison, a First Team All-MVC pick, leads the team in scoring at 18.4 points per game. Missouri State, then known as Southwest Missouri, defeated West Virginia 78-70 to capture the 2005 WNIT championship.

Rice, 18-13 overall, placed third in the C-USA standings with a 10-6 slate. UCF, which finished second in the C-USA standings, won the C-USA championship and earned the league's NCAA automatic bid, while the University of Houston, C-USA's regular season titlist, earned an at-large NCAA bid. Tulane, fourth in the C-USA standings earned a WNIT bid and hosts Southern on Thursday, March 17. Memphis also received an WNIT bid and hosts Alabama on Thursday as well.

All-C-USA First Teamer and Freshman Player of the Year, Jessica Kuster leads the Owls. Kuster averages a double-double at 14.1 points per game and 10.6 rebounds per game.

Women's National Invitation Tournament is an annual tournament involving 64 of the nation's top women's Division I basketball teams. Participating schools host all games, including the semifinals and championship.

The Postseason WNIT features 32 first-round games, followed by 16 second-round games, eight third-round games, four quarterfinal games, two semifinal games, and the championship. The championship game is televised. The event offers 31 automatic berths, one to each established conference, and 33 at-large berths.

California won six straight games, including two on the road, to capture the 2010 WNIT title. The Golden Bears defeated Miami 73-61 in a championship game.

Rice in the WNIT
1998 at Oklahoma L 75-62

1999 vs. Miami (FL) W 65-58
1999 at Baylor W 62-60 (OT)
1999 at Arkansas L 76-70

2002 at Houston L 67-65

2004 at Arkansas State W 59-52
2004 at UNLV L 68-66

2006 vs. Jackson State W 64-48
2006 at Indiana L 67-57

2007 at Illinois State L 71-61 (3OT)

Past WNIT Champions
2010 - California
2009 - South Florida
2008 - Marquette
2007 - Wyoming
2006 - Kansas State
2005 - Missouri
2004 - Creighton
2003 - Auburn
2002 - Oregon
2001 - Ohio State
2000 - Wisconsin
1999 - Arkansas
1998 - Penn State

Here are the date ranges for each round in 2011:
Round 1 March 16-18
Round 2 March 19-21
Round 3 March 23-25
Quarterfinals March 26-28
Semifinals March 30-31
Championship April 2





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