Women's Basketball Earns NIT Berth, Will Play Host to St. Mary's Wednesday

March 10, 2002

EUGENE, Ore. - The wait is over. The University of Oregon women's basketball team will make its ninth straight postseason appearance as the Ducks will play host Wednesday to St. Mary's (Calif.) in the Women's National Invitation Tournament at McArthur Court at 7 p.m.

Tickets can be obtained in-person beginning Monday through the Duck Ticket Office by calling 1-800-WEBFOOT or 541-346-4461. Season-ticket holders will have first priority beginning at 9 a.m. After 12 p.m., tickets will be available to the general public. Tickets are $13 for reserved seats, $9 for adult GA, $6 for children/seniors GA and $4 for students.

The event involves 32 teams in a single-elimination format. All games, including the semifinals and championship, will be hosted by participating schools at their home facility.

Oregon (17-13), which finished in a tie for sixth in the Pac-10 and advanced to the conference tourney semifinals, will make its first appearance in the WNIT in school history. The Ducks had been to the NCAA Tournament the last eight seasons.

The WNIT began in 1998 after the postseason NWIT, held in Amarillo, Texas, each year was discontinued in 1996. In 1998, 16 schools participated and the field was expanded to 32 in 1999. The postseason WNIT championship has averaged 13,810 fans, including last year's game at New Mexico that drew a record 18,018.

Oregon led the Pac-10 in attendance for the fourth straight year, averaging 4,653 fans per game at historic McArthur Court - the nation's second oldest Division I on-campus gym.

The Ducks have an 11-14 overall record in postseason competition, which includes a 4-11 record in the NCAA Tournament. Oregon made an unprecedented eight consecutive appearances in the NCAA Tournament from 1994 to 2001, but went only 3-8, including 1-4 in the last five games. Oregon captured the championship of the now-defunct National Women's Invitational Tournament in 1989 and also competed in the tourney in 1979. Before the advent of the NCAA Tournament, the Ducks lost in the second round of the AIAW Tournament both in 1980 and 1981.

St. Mary's, meanwhile, has a 16-12 record, including a 9-5 mark in the West Coast Conference. The Gaels, like the Ducks, also have played Washington (L, 62-55), California (W, 53-50), Portland (W, 72-53, L, 80-75).

Other Pac-10 teams in the WNIT are Oregon State, Washington and USC. The Beavers play host Thursday to Hawai`i while the Huskies will take on North Texas, also on Thursday, at Seattle. The Women of Troy travel to play San Francisco on Wednesday.

The Oregon-St. Mary's winner will play the Oregon State-Hawai`i winner between March 16-18.

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