Walla Walla, Wash. -- The Lady Missionaries are going to the "Big Dance" for the first time in school history after receiving an at-large bid from the selection committee -- the 64 team field being announced this morning. The Whits posted a 20 - 4 regular season and a 13 - 3 conference mark that earned them second place in the highly regarded Northwest Conference that is sending three teams to the tourney -- Lewis & Clark and NWC tournament champ Whitworth.
"We are thrilled", said head coach Michelle Ferenz. "I think our selection not only demonstrates recognition of our season but also, on a national level that the Northwest Conference is very, very, good in women's basketball. When you start stacking us up against other teams for at-large bids, our strength of schedule really carries us ahead of a lot of those other teams."
The Missionaries will face Cal Lutheran (23 - 4) on Friday at Lewis & Clark in Portland -- game time has yet to be announced. The Regals won their second consecutive Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference title by beating Chapman 59 - 54 in the conference title game.
Whitman's stifling defense
Whitman suffered a disappointing loss at home in the NWC semi-finals after earning the No. 2 seed but earned the NCAA berth based on its total body of work. The 13 - 3 conference record included a road win at then No. 5 ranked Lewis & Clark and a victory over nationally ranked George Fox, just to name a couple of the highlights.
"I am just thrilled to have another week with these kids", said Ferenz. "It's been a fun season. It's a great group and they work so hard. The really deserve it."
No. 8 L & C is in the same grouping, facing Trinity (TX) Friday and the Pioneers and the Missionaries would matchup for a third time this season Saturday, if they both win their openers.
Check the Whitman Athletics webpage for game time and other tournament information.
Whitman Sports Information Director