St. Bonaventure has received an automatic berth in the Women's National Invitation Tournament and will face former Atlantic 10 Conference member Charlotte in the first round on Friday, March 21, at 7 p.m. in the Reilly Center, the WNIT announced Monday evening. Olean General Hospital is the Presenting Game Sponsor.
The WNIT consists of a field of 64 teams -- 32 that earned an automatic berth, and 32 teams that were chosen at-large. The Bonnies received an automatic berth because they are the highest finishing team in the Atlantic 10 Conference that did not receive an NCAA Tournament bid. St. Bonaventure is one of four A-10 teams in the field along with Duquesne, George Washington and VCU.
The WNIT begins this week with first round games March 19-21. All games throughout the tournament are played on campuses.
This is St. Bonaventure's fifth postseason appearance in the last six seasons. The Bonnies played in the NCAA Tournament in 2012 and the WNIT in 2009, 2010 and 2011. All three of the Bonnies' prior seasons in the WNIT, they have hosted games at the Reilly Center.
St. Bonaventure enters the postseason with a record of 23-10. The Bonnies finished second in the Atlantic 10 with a record of 11-5 and head coach Jim Crowley, now in his 14th season at St. Bonaventure, was named the A-10 Coach of the Year for the third time. The Bonnies are 12-1 at the Reilly Center this year.
The Bonnies are led by sophomore forwards Katie Healy and Hannah Little, graduate student Chelsea Bowker, and sophomore guards Nyla Rueter and Emily Michael. Healy leads the Bonnies in scoring at 16.0 points per game and also averages 7.7 rebounds and 2.4 assists per game. She was named the A-10's Most Improved Player and also was named to the first team All-Conference. Little, who was named the A-10 Sixth Player of the Year, broke the school record for rebounds in a season with 295 (8.9 per game) and also averages 10.4 points per game. Rueter, who was named to the third team All-Conference, is second on the team in scoring at 11.0 points per game and leads the Bonnies in three-point field goal percentage at .421. Bowker (pictured right), a small forward, averages 9.6 points per game and ranks third in the A-10 with 82 three-point field goals. Michael, the Bonnies' point guard, averages 3.4 points and is known as one of the top defensive guards in the A-10.
Charlotte, which was a member of the A-10 from 2005-2013, has a record of 15-15. The 49ers finished sixth in Conference USA with a mark of 9-7 and lost in the second round of the C-USA Tournament. Charlotte is a balanced team led by senior point guard Ny Hammonds, an All-Conference USA Second Team choice who averages 11.4 points and 5.8 assists per game. Forward Gabby Tyler leads Charlotte in both scoring (12.0 points per game) and rebounding (7.7). Last season, Charlotte went 26-6 and reached the Sweet 16 of the WNIT.
The winner of this game will advance to face the winner of the first round game between Bowling Green and High Point.
All tickets for the game are general admission and are priced at $8 for adults and $5 for children ages 5-17. Kids age four and under will be admitted free, while groups of 10 or more may purchase tickets for $5 each. Tickets may be purchased in advance at the SBU Ticket Office, by calling (716) 375-2500, via GoBonnies.com/tickets or at the door Friday night.
The game will air on WGWE radio 105.9 FM, with Mike Smith on play-by-play. WGWE will host a pre-game tailgate party, weather permitting, starting at 5:30 p.m. on the outdoor basketball courts on the east side of the Reilly Center.
As it did for all of the Bonnies' regular-season games, student-run SBU-TV will offer a free streaming broadcast of the game via www.GoBonnies.com. The broadcast will include play-by-play and color announcers, six camera angles, statistics graphics and replays.
St. Bonaventure's Athletics Department is also asking for donations of $5 tickets to be given out to St. Bonaventure students so that they can attend the game at no cost. If you are interested in making a tax-deductible student ticket donation, contact Darian Westerfield at (716) 375-2161; via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or on-line at www.sbu.edu/wnit.
The donated tickets will be allocated to students with a valid SBU student ID on a first-come, first-serve basis. Students must enter through the normal student entrance on the east side of the RC closest to the pool.