Presnell says preseason WNIT invite a ‘real highlight’ for Boise State
The Boise State women’s basketball team drew its largest home crowd in nearly 12 years when it hosted fifth-ranked Louisville in a nonconference matchup at Taco Bell Arena last November.
Another big home game could be on the calendar this November after the Broncos formally accepted an invitation to participate in the 2019 Preseason WNIT.
The tournament’s 16-team field was announced Thursday, and first-round matchups, dates and sites will be released later this spring.
Boise State will be joined in the tournament by Davidson, DePaul, Drexel, Miami (Ohio), Missouri State, Oklahoma, Oregon State, Pacific, Portland State, Prairie View A&M, South Alabama, Texas A&M-Corpus Christi, UAB, UC Irvine and UMKC. Eight teams will host first-round games, and each team is guaranteed three games.
“We’ve got a solid group of established programs from conferences with a national presence, but our mid-major teams have a proven ability to make noise and be very tough to handle,” WNIT director Renee Carlson said in a press release. “While everyone wants to eventually have a memorable postseason, teams realize they better bring their best from the very beginning of the campaign.”
Twelve of the 16 teams advanced to the postseason in 2018-19, with five of those squads qualifying for the NCAA Tournament — Boise State, DePaul, Missouri State, Oregon State and Portland State.
A team may participate in the Preseason WNIT no more than once in a four-year period, and only one institution per conference can play in the tournament in the same year. New Mexico represented the Mountain West last season, falling in the second round. Past tournament winners include Iowa State (2018), Louisville (2017), Notre Dame (2016), Baylor (2015) and Mississippi State (2014).
The Broncos have advanced to the NCAA Tournament three straight seasons and should be in contention for a fourth consecutive bid in 2019-20. They lose seniors Joyce Harrell and Marta Hermida to graduation, but add 6-foot-5 Oregon transfer Mallory McGwire, who sat out last season, to the lineup.
After receiving votes in both the AP and coaches’ polls last season while collecting a program-record 28 wins, the Broncos could position themselves for their first Top 25 appearance since 1994 with a strong performance throughout their nonconference schedule. Success in the Preseason WNIT and a strong showing at Louisville (the return game of a home-and-home series) could do the trick.
The Gem State will also be represented in the tournament by two former prep stars. Boise High graduate Mandy Simpson plays for Oklahoma, while Mountain View alum Destiny Slocum is on Oregon State’s roster. The Beavers eliminated Boise State in overtime in the first round of the NCAA Tournament in March.
Note: Boise State’s Tess Amundsen, Sofia Galeron and Emerald Toth announced their plans to transfer. Toth has signed with Carroll College and Galeron is headed to Florida Atlantic. Amundsen has not yet announced her decision.