The University of Central Arkansas will open its 2014-15 women’s basketball season at Bowling Green, Kentucky, against Western Kentucky in the Preseason Women’s NIT on Nov. 14.
The Sugar Bears will be making their first appearance in the 16-team tournament, which features nine teams coming off postseason appearances in 2014, including five NCAA Tournament and four WNIT teams.
In drawing the Lady Toppers, the Sugar Bears face a team that was 24-9 in 2013-14 and made its 17th NCAA Tournament, where they were defeated 87-74 by No. 5 Baylor. WKU received an automatic berth in the NCAA Tournament by defeating Arkansas State in the championship game of their final Sun Belt Conference Tournament before moving to Conference USA.
With 24 wins last season, WKU tied Penn State for the third-highest 2013-14 win total of this year’s Preseason WNIT field, with West Virginia going 30-5 last season and Albany 28-5. The Lady Toppers return eight of their top 10 scorers from last season, led by WBCA All-American Honorable Mention forward Chastity Gooch, who averaged 18.4 points and 9.0 rebounds per game and was the Sun Belt’s Defensive Player of the Year and tournament Most Outstanding Player. The Lady Toppers are 6-3 all-time in the Preseason WNIT, including a 4-0 mark at home in E.A. Diddle Arena.
The Sugar Bears return eight players off last season’s 18-12 team, including sophomore guards Brianna Mullins — the 2014 Southland Conference Freshman of the Year — and Maggie Proffitt, the team’s leading 3-point shooter, who were second and third on the team in scoring last season at 10.0 and 9.7 points per game. The Sugar Bears also return senior forwards Terai Sadler (6.6 ppg, 3.6 rpg) and Brittany Agee (5.5 ppg, 4.3 rpg) and junior guard Jameka Watkins (2.4 ppg, 2.0 apg), who combined to make 50 starts for UCA last season.
The Preseason WNIT kicks off the women’s college basketball season and will be played Nov. 14-23. The tournament is formatted to give all teams a three-game guarantee. The event opens Nov. 14-15 with Round One. Round Two will be played Nov. 16-17; Semifinals will be Nov. 20; and the championship is set for Sunday, Nov. 23, at 1 p.m. The championship game will be nationally televised live on CBS Sports Network.
If a team loses in the first two rounds, it will finish the tournament in the consolation bracket. The consolation bracket will be re-drawn to form new matchups based on the geography of teams involved, who can/cannot host, and recent history of teams. The consolation bracket will be released Nov. 16 after all of the Round One games are complete.