Rainbow Wahine hoops team to face St. Mary's in WNIT

Rainbow Wahine hoops team to face St. Mary's in WNIT

HONOLULU-The University of Hawai'i women's basketball team earned its ninth overall and third straight invitation into the Women's National Invitational Tournament after winning the Big West regular season crown with a conference record of 14-2 and an overall record of 23-8. The Rainbow Wahine will travel to Moraga, Calif. to take on the St. Mary's Gaels (20-10, 13-5 WCC) on Friday, March 20 in the WNIT first round (time still to be determined).

Overall, this is the 14th time in Hawai'i history that the 'Bows will play in the post-season. Hawai'i has played in the WNIT in 1983, '92, 2000, '01, '02, '03, '13, '14 and now '15. UH has advanced to the NCAA tournament five times in 1989, '90, '94, 96, and '98. Head coach Laura Beeman has led the 'Bows to three post-season appearances in all three of her seasons at UH.

The Rainbow Wahine finished the regular season on a 14-game win streak and extended it to 15 after defeating Cal State Fullerton in the BWT semifinals 73-64 last Friday. The streak was snapped at 15 in the Big West Tournament championship game 67-60 loss on Saturday to CSUN. UH's 15-game win streak was the longest under Beeman and the fourth longest win streak in program history. It was the longest streak since former head coach Vince Goo led UH to 19 straight wins in 1997-98. Hawai'i hit the 20+-win mark overall for the 13th time in school history. It is the first time UH has had 20 wins since the 2001-02 season when the 'Bows went 23-8 overall. For the Rainbow Wahine, it is their first conference title since the 'Bows won the Western Athletic Conference's Pacific Division crown in 1997-98 under Goo. It also marks UH's third Big West title after Goo led the 'Bows to back-to-back first place finishes in 1992-93 and 1993-94.

It is the second time in three years that Hawai'i will be facing a West Coast Conference team. In 2013, Beeman's first season, the 'Bows fell at San Diego in the first round, 61-49. Last season, the Rainbow Wahine lost in the WNIT first round to Washington in Seattle, Wash., 67-50.

The only other Big West team selected to the WNIT was fourth-place Long Beach State (22-9), which plays at WCC runner-up San Diego (24-6) on Thursday.

The WNIT first-round action tips off Wednesday, March 18 and concludes Friday, March 20. Second-round games begin March 21-24, round three March 25-27, quarterfinals March 28-30, and semifinals April 1-2. The championship game will be played Saturday, April 4 and will be televised live and in HD on CBS Sports Network at 3 p.m. ET. All games are hosted by participating schools.

This year's tournament features six teams from the Mid-American Conference and four from the West Coast Conference. Ten conferences each placed three teams - American, Atlantic 10, ACC, Big 12, Big East, Big Sky, Colonial, C-USA, Horizon and Missouri Valley. Other conferences represented include: Big West (2), Mountain West (2), Pac-12 (2), SEC (2), American East (1), Atlantic Sun (1), Big South (1), Big Ten (1), Ivy League (1), MAAC (1), MEAC (1), Northeastern (1), Ohio Valley (1), Patriot (1), Southern (1), Southland (1), SWAC (1), Summit (1), Sun Belt (1) and WAC (1).

Seven teams won their regular season conference title: Colorado State (MWC), Hampton (MEAC), Hawai'i (Big West), South Dakota (Summit), Stephen F Austin (Southland), Texas Southern (SWAC) and UT Martin (OVC).