published Saturday, March 10th, 2012

Lady Mocs could get invitation to the WNIT

The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga women's basketball team might have a chance to "rewrite" the ending to its season.

Lady Mocs coach Wes Moore has been in contact with officials from the Women's NIT postseason tournament and UTC could be in the 64-team field, which will be announced late Monday night after the NCAA tournament brackets are released.

The Lady Mocs are 22-9 this season, and teams must have winning records to be eligible for the WNIT.

UTC is on spring break next week and Moore said he told the WNIT that he needed to know something one way or another this weekend because his players had to coordinate their plans. The Lady Mocs are scheduled to practice today and Sunday.

"I stressed that and told them, 'Hey, it's spring break and it costs money to keep them here and blah, blah, blah,' and their words to me were, 'If I were you I'd be getting them ready,'" Moore said Friday.

It appeared that UTC's season ended last Sunday in Asheville, N.C., with a 77-52 thumping at the hands of Appalachian State in the semifinals of the Southern Conference tournament. Moore, who has been on the road recruiting this week, said the loss has been a difficult one to swallow. That's why the chance to play at least once more would be so meaningful.

"The biggest thing for me is that I don't want the season to end the way it ended," he said. "To try to rewrite the ending would be an opportunity that I would jump at. Let's face it, our goals include going to the NCAA tournament. I'll go to the WNIT, but I'm not going to go to any other tournament.

"The WNIT is based on what you've done for three months, and the NCAA, in our situation [a mid-major conference], is based on what you do in three days."

As of Monday, UTC's RPI, according to the NCAA, was 59, seven spots ahead of Appalachian State. Davidson's was 85 and SoCon tourney champion Samford's was 114.

RealTimeRPI.com lists UTC at No. 58, App State at 70 and Davidson at 82.

Because UTC, App State and Davidson have RPI rankings in the top 100, all three could receive invitations to the WNIT, Moore said.

The WNIT team field will consist of 31 schools that earned automatic bids by being the top team in the league that failed to make the NCAA tournament, and 33 at-large selections. Davidson received the SoCon's automatic bid by being the No. 1 seed in the conference tournament, which Samford won by defeating Appalachian State.

about John Frierson...

John Frierson is in his seventh year at the Times Free Press and seventh year covering University of Tennessee at Chattanooga athletics. The bulk of his time is spent covering Mocs football, but he also writes about women’s basketball and the big-picture issues and news involving the athletic department. A native of Athens, Ga., John grew up a few hundred yards from the University of Georgia campus. Instead of becoming a Bulldog he attended Ole ...

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