MUNCIE, Ind. - - After a thrilling run to the 2014 Mid-American Conference Tournament championship game, the Ball State women’s basketball team (18-16) learned its season would continue Monday, as it was extended an at-large invitation to play in the 64-team Women’s National Invitational Tournament. The Cardinals will play at Northwestern Thursday at 8 p.m. EST.
“I am thrilled to take this team into the WNIT, said Ball State head women's basketball coach Brady Sallee. "Over the past several weeks our team has been at its best and earned this opportunity to play on the national stage. We will now go to work and prepare to represent Ball State University and the MAC the best we can. The continued growth of our program is exciting and we look at this as another step in the right direction for Ball State Women’s Basketball."
The Ball State women’s basketball team will be making its second-straight WNIT appearance, and fifth overall, after advancing to the Final 16 for the first time in program history last season. During its 2013 WNIT run, the Cardinals knocked off Big Ten foe Minnesota 54-51 on the road and scored a 53-48 win over Northern Iowa at Worthen Arena. In the Final 16 game, the Cardinals suffered a 60-48 loss at Kansas State.
The Cardinals became postseason eligible by winning seven of its final eight games en route to advancing to last Saturday’s MAC Tournament championship game for the first time since winning it all in 2009. In the semifinals of the MAC Tournament, Ball State scored a thrilling 73-55 win over 25th-ranked Bowling Green. The Cardinals then lost to No. 3 Akron 79-68 in the title game.
The Cardinals had a seven-game winning streak heading into Saturday's MAC Tournament championship game, including tournament wins over No. 12 seed Kent State, No. 9 Northern Illinois, No. 4 Buffalo and No. 1 Bowling Green. Ball State is only the third team to ever win four games and the first team to ever play five in a single MAC Tournament. The Cardinals were also just the third No. 5 seed in league history to compete in the MAC Tournament title game.
Sallee, who is in his second season at Ball State, becomes only the second coach in program history to take the Cardinals to back-to-back WNITs. The last time it happened was 2001-02 and 2002-03 under former head coach Tracy Roller.
Sallee has led the Cardinals to an 18-16 overall record in 2013-14, with the 18 wins being the most in a season since the 2008-09 squad went 26-9. Sallee owns a 171-141 career head coaching record, including a 136-109 mark in eight seasons at Eastern Illinois.
The Postseason WNIT features 64 NCAA Division I women's basketball teams. The field includes 31 teams that receive automatic berths - one berth from each of the nation's established conferences - and 33 at-large selections. All teams at the NCAA Division I level are considered for at-large berths, including those who are independent and/or are in the process of reaching full NCAA Division I status.