Upset by NCAA snub, West Virginia women’s basketball team moves on to WNIT

MORGANTOWN — Tynice Martin wasn’t about to hide her emotions, not after the West Virginia guard felt the Mountaineers belonged in the NCAA tournament, but instead settled for a second consecutive trip to the WNIT.
“Just to be frank, I didn’t like it,” Martin said. “I thought that we shot ourselves in the foot early in the season with some losses that we should have won. It is what it is. It was just a bad day.”
West Virginia’s resume included 11 wins in Big 12 play. The league was the third-highest rated conference in the country by the Ratings Percentage Index (RPI).
“I thought we had a chance to get in,” WVU coach Mike Carey said. “We had 11 wins in the third-rated RPI league in the country. I thought that would be enough to get in the NCAAs. I was disappointed. Our non-conference schedule, we didn’t win some games that we needed to win and I think that hurt us.”
The focus now shifts to Thursday’s 7 p.m. game against Rider (19-12), which finished second in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference, but fell to Marist in the MAAC tournament semifinals.
“They play man-to-man and all of their leading scorers are on the perimeter,” Carey said. “They have four players averaging in double figures and they’re all guards.”
The winner advances to Sunday’s second round against either Villanova or Old Dominion.
The 64-team field includes seven schools from Power Five Conferences and eight more from either the Big East or the American conferences.
“It’s been the best field I’ve ever been in with the NIT,” Carey said. “We could very easily play Villanova in the second round and then we could play Ohio State or Virginia Tech. It just goes on and on and that’s just in our bracket. It’s a very strong NIT.”
The question: One season after advancing to the semifinals of the WNIT, do the Mountaineers (20-10) have enough focus and will power to make another run?
“I’ve seen good energy in practice and good attitudes and work ethics,” Carey said. “My philosophy is if you’re going to get in this, then get in it to win it, or else don’t do it. If you want the season to be over, the season could be over. But, if you want to get in the NIT, then let’s go win the NIT.”
Added Martin: “Some people didn’t even know about the NIT,” she said. “Me, too, before last year. I’ve had to remind them that some schools didn’t get into the NIT, so be grateful that we still have games to play. Some schools were done after the Big 12 tournament.”

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