EWU women accept bid to WBI, will play Texas State Thursday - SWX Right Now-Sports for Spokane, CdA, Tri-Cities, WA

EWU women accept bid to WBI, will play Texas State Thursday

Courtesy: EWU Athletics Courtesy: EWU Athletics

By EWU Athletics

CHENEY, Wash. -- The Eastern Washington University women's basketball team will be playing in the postseason for the third time in the last five seasons, as the Eagles accepted a bid to play in the 8th Women's Basketball Invitational (WBI) on Monday (March 13) evening. Eastern will open the 16-team tournament on the road at Texas State on March 16. Tip-off from San Marcos, Texas is set for 3 p.m. PT.

Eastern Washington earned its first-ever bid to the WBI after going 18-13 in the regular season. The Eagles had to go through the toughest schedule – S.O.S. 145 according to RealTimeRPI.com – in the Big Sky Conference this season, as they played 13 times against teams in the RPI Top 150. EWU's three wins against Top 150 teams helped the Eagles end the regular season with an RPI of 134.

"We're very excited about the opportunity to keep playing," said head coach Wendy Schuller on Monday night. "The WBI does a great job with their tournament and we are look forward to heading to San Marcos this week to play a tough Texas State team. I feel like we've played a lot of places around this country this season and have been road tested and will be ready for whatever test we'll get on Thursday night."

With the WBI selection, a pair of Eastern Washington seniors Ashli Payne and Tisha Phillips will extend their EWU careers for at least one more game. Both players have played huge roles for the Eagles over the last years, as they've helped Eastern pick up a combined 38 wins over the last two seasons.

"More than anything, I'm happy for our seniors that they get the opportunity to extend their careers, Schuller added. "Also, I think giving our younger players a chance to play in a postseason game will be vital to their growth."

The WBI marks the third time in five years the Eagles will be playing in a national postseason tournament, as EWU previously participated in the 2013 and 2015 Women's National Invitational Tournament (WNIT). It is the fifth time in program history that Eastern has qualified for the postseason, as they also played in the 1987 NCAA Tournament and the 2010 WNIT.

Eastern is 1-4 all-time in national postseason games. The lone win came during their last appearance in the WNIT, as the Eagles knocked off regional-rival Washington State, 67-65, in Pullman on March 18, 2015.

Texas State, who plays in the Sun Belt Conference, went 16-14 and finished in a tie for fourth in the Sun Belt by going 11-7 in league play. The Bobcats were knocked out of the Sun Belt Conference Tournament Quarterfinals, as they suffered a 66-64 loss to Louisiana. TSU ended the season with an RPI of 168 and went 10-4 at home this season. The Bobcats did score a pair of victories over teams in the RPI Top 100 with a wins at UT Arlington (RPI 91) and at home against the Sun Belt Champion Little Rock (RPI 48).  

Thursday's matchup in the WBI will mark the first time Eastern Washington and Texas State have played each other.

Eastern saw its season come to an end last Friday (March 10) in the Semifinals of the Big Sky Tournament. The No. 4-seeded Eagles dropped a heartbreaking 61-59 decision to the eventual Big Sky Tournament champion, Montana State, as the Bobcats a game-winning jumper with just three seconds left to play. The Eagles went 12-6 in the Big Sky to finish fourth in the standings. The 12 wins marks the sixth-straight season with 10-or-more conference wins, which is the longest current streak in the Big Sky.

For more information on the Eastern Washington women's basketball team, follow @EWUWBB on Twitter and Instagram and be sure to follow EWU Women's Basketball on Twitter.

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