Hoops Programs Continue WSU Athletics Postseason Run
PULLMAN, Wash. – Washington State Athletics continues to see an escalation in its athletic programs success and nothing highlights that better than the 2021-22 academic year, where postseason berths have become the norm, not the exception.
In the fall, Cougar football reached a bowl game for the sixth time in seven years while soccer and volleyball both continued their impressive postseason streaks, soccer having gone four of the last five seasons and volleyball each of the last six seasons. In addition, cross country, swimming and indoor track and field student-athletes have made their mark in postseason competition this season.
During the month of March, the focus is on WSU's basketball programs as for the first time in school history, both the men's and women's teams are competing in the postseason in the same year. Led by head coach Kamie Ethridge, the women's team reached the NCAA Tournament for the second-straight season, also a program first. With a bid to the National Invitational Tournament (NIT), the men reached the postseason for the first time since 2012, when they advanced to the finals of the CBI (College Basketball Invitational).
"The success of our basketball programs is vital to enhancing the overall WSU Pullman experience," said WSU Director of Athletics Pat Chun. "Our basketball programs provide valuable exposure on a national level and for both teams to compete in the postseason is a tremendous boost for the university. On a local level, the impact on students and fans coming to games and the positive uptick on our local economy is increased by the success of these two programs."
The WSU women's team earned its second-straight at-large bid into March Madness after going 19-10 overall this season and finishing tied for second in the Pac-12 Conference with an 11-6 mark. The 19 wins are the most collected by the Cougars in a single season in the NCAA era in program history, while the 11 Pac-12 victories are a program record for most conference wins in a season. WSU earned a No. 8 seed in the Bridgeport season.
WSU entered this year's tournament 0-2 all-time in the Big Dance. Last season, Washington State was a No. 9 seed in the Mercado Region and fell to No. 8-seeded South Florida, 57-53, in the first round in Austin, Texas. WSU was also selected as the No. 11-seed in the Midwest Region in the 1991 NCAA Women's Basketball Tournament. The Cougs lost in the first round after falling to No. 6-seed Northwestern, 82-62, in Evanston, Illinois.
The Cougar men's team began the postseason following one of its most successful seasons in the last decade as it entered the NIT 19-14 overall. The team went 1-1 at the Pac-12 Tournament, defeating Cal in the opening round before falling to the tournament runner-up, UCLA, in the second round of action. The Cougs win total was bolstered by a strong run through the Pac-12, going 11-9 on the year for only the program's 13th winning season in conference play since the conference was formed in 1968-69, and the first since Tony Bennett roamed the sideline in 2007-08. In all, the Cougs finished tied for 5th place alongside Oregon and Washington. The finish was the team's best in conference play since 2007-08 when the Cougs finished tied for 3rd. It marks just the third time WSU finished in the top-5 since 1994-95.
All time at the NIT the Cougs are 7-5 including going 3-1 in 2011 as the WSU, led by Klay Thompson, played its way to the semifinals, defeating Long Beach State, Oklahoma State, and Northwestern before falling to Wichita State. The Cougs have played in the NIT five times in their program history winning their opening round game in all but one season. That one loss in 2009 happened to come at the hands of Saint Mary's with coach Kyle Smith on the sidelines as an assistant coach for the Gaels. The loss also came on the road in the only first round game WSU has played away from Pullman in its five tournament appearances. Of the seven tournament victories, six have come inside Beasley Coliseum including three in the teams run to the semifinals in 2011.
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