The No. 13 seed in the Raleigh Region, Western Carolina (21-11, 11-9 SoCon) is making its first trip to play its opening NCAA Tournament game in Albuquerque. Western Carolina’s No. 13 seed in the NCAA Tournament is the highest placement in the NCAA Tournament in school history. The Lady Catamounts are making their second appearance in “The Big Dance” after in 2005, the Lady Catamounts were a No. 16 seed and fell to Tennessee.
Western Carolina is in the NCAA Tournament after claiming the Southern Conference Tournament title for the second time in five years. It was the Lady Catamounts third-straight year the club has reached the finals – getting the win on the third try. It is also the fifth time in six years Western Carolina has reached the finals.
Facing the Vanderbilt Commodores tonight will be the first time in WCU history. It is the second club the Lady Catamounts will face from the state of Tennessee this season . They played in Knoxville against the Lady Vols on November 25, 2008, falling 81-56. Vandy is the second SEC school Western Carolina will face in the first round of the NCAA Tournament – as the club played Tennessee in 2005.
Western Carolina is taking a 10-game winning streak into the NCAA Tournament. It ties the longest winning streak for Western Carolina under the direction of Head Coach Kellie Harper. The streak lifted Western Carolina above the 20-win mark, making it the third straight season WCU has had 20 or more wins. The school record is 13 straight wins.
After starting the season 6-6, and suffering tough losses at Montana State and UNC Asheville, Western Carolina began 2009 with a 92-55 road win at Appalachian State. The Lady Catamounts finished the regular season and tournament play 15-5 in its last 20 games . And after going 0-5 on the road to start the year, the club was 6-2 in road contests to end the year. WCU averaged 68.8 points per game in the last 20 games outscoring opponents by an average of 8.3 points per game. The Lady Catamounts also averaged 44.2 rebounds per game and held opponents to 35.5.
What’s Ahead With A Win on Saturday
Western Carolina is 2-2 against teams that made the NCAA Tournament . The Lady Catamounts defeated No. 8 seed and 25th ranked Middle Tennessee (68-59) and No. 14 seed Liberty (73-23) and lost to No. 3 seed North Carolina (75-45) and No. 5 seed Tennessee (81-56).
The winner of the match-up between No.4 seeded Vanderbilt and No. 13 seeded Western Carolina will play the winner of No. 5 Kansas State and No. 12 Drexel on Monday March 23.