SE: Women's Basketball Takes on George Washington in NCAA Tournament
The K-State women’s basketball team gathered at head coach Jeff Mittie’s home last night to watch the NCAA Selection Show. It was an evening of excitement and anticipation as the Wildcats waited for their name to be called for the first time in four years.
And after waiting patiently, there it was – the No. 9 seed K-State will take on No. 8 seed George Washington in the first round of the 2016 NCAA Tournament on Friday at 5 p.m., at Colonial Life Arena in Columbia, South Carolina.
“I’m so happy for them that our name showed up because, out of all the teams I’ve coached over the years, this team has come in every day and given us great effort,” said Mittie after watching the selection show with his team. “Even in this week of limbo where we didn’t know (our opponent or if we were in), we practiced at 6 a.m., and they were fantastic. They’ve had a good attitude and have gotten better every day. They’ve just been fantastic.”
There was nervousness during the show as the Wildcats did not have their named called after half the bracket was revealed. Following a commercial break, K-State didn’t have to wait much longer as their draw was the second game announced in the second half of the bracket.
“Watching the show was up and down,” said freshman guard Kayla Goth. “It was very nerve-racking because a lot of us expected to be in the South Bend Region. So when we didn’t come up in that, I think the stress level went up a little bit more, but when our name did show up, it was definitely an exciting moment.”
It was an exciting moment, indeed. Sitting together in their coach’s living room, when “K-State” finally popped up on the screen, the whole team let out a cheer and the players embraced one another. Their anticipation was over – the Wildcat women’s basketball team knew it was headed to the Big Dance.
“I saw our name up there, but it really didn’t sink in until I heard all my teammates cheering; it was so exciting,” said junior center Breanna Lewis, who, like her teammates, couldn’t stop smiling. “It was one of the best feelings that I’ve ever experienced in basketball. I can’t explain it; we were just waiting, seeing all the teams come up. Once you see yours, it’s a feeling you’ll never forget.”
Added junior guard Kindred Wesemann, “I was holding my breath as soon as they started that portion of the bracket. When our name came up, it was a sigh of relief; it was awesome. We were jumping around, hugging each other. It was really, really cool to see our name up there.”
Though no player on this year’s Wildcat women’s basketball team has ever been to the NCAA Tournament, it’s an opportunity the group has been working toward for quite some time.
“Getting to the tournament, it’s something that we’ve been working for since the beginning of the season, since after last season,” said senior guard Bri Craig. “Being able to finally see our name up on that screen and see that all of our hard work has paid off, it’s definitely an amazing feeling.”
K-State women’s basketball has tallied an 18-12 overall record this season, surpassing last season’s regular-season win total of 17 and posted its best mark in Big 12 play (8-10) since the 2011-12 season.
K-State enters the NCAA Tournament led by Lewis, who proved to be one of the Big 12’s most dominant centers this season. The Milwaukee, Wisconsin, native earned All-Big 12 First Team honors after leading the team in scoring (16.7 ppg), rebounding (7.5 rpg), double-doubles (7) and blocks (74). She became the first player in program history to register the combination of 500 or more points, 70 or more blocks and 45 or more steals in a season and is one of just two players in the NCAA Division I (Breanna Stewart, Connecticut) to record those numbers this season.
“I feel like (we deserve this) more than anything,” said Lewis of her team’s opportunity to play in the NCAA Tournament. “This season, this year, these seniors; we deserve it more than anything. We’ve all worked hard, played great teams and played great basketball.”
Along with Lewis, Wesemann will also be looked upon to make an impact during tournament play. Wesemann earned All-Big 12 Second Team honors after recording a Big 12 best 83 three-point field goals and averaging 12.5 points per game.
“I’ve been on every side of it now: my freshman year we didn’t play in any post season, last year we got into the WNIT, then this year, the NCAA Tournament,” said Wesemann. “It’s awesome. It’s a great feeling. We’ve worked so hard for this, and we’re going to play for as long as we can.”
George Washington (26-6, 13-3 Atlantic 10) enters the NCAA Tournament with an automatic bid after winning its second-consecutive Atlantic 10 Championship on March 6, with a 63-60 victory over Duquesne.
While Mittie and his coaches didn’t know much about the Colonials immediately after the selection show, he said they were going to spend the night studying their newest opponent and will be ready to brief the team at today’s practice.
“I don’t know a lot about George Washington, but we’ll find out a lot tonight,” Mittie said. “But I don’t think the prep will be any different for us; it’s going to be exciting. I’m sure if we called practice right now they’d be excited to go out and get started.”
If the Wildcats pull off the win on Friday, K-State will face the winner of No. 1 South Carolina and No. 16 Jacksonville on Sunday.
For more information on the Wildcats’ upcoming NCAA Tournament appearance, please click here.