ST. BONAVENTURE, N.Y. – For the second time in school history, the St. Bonaventure University women's basketball team is going dancing in the NCAA Tournament.
The Bonnies have qualified for the NCAA Tournament as an at-large selection, earning the No. 10 seed in the Dallas Region. Bona will play seventh-seeded Oklahoma State (21-9) on Friday at 7:30 p.m. (EST) at the Gill Coliseum on the campus of Oregon State University in Corvallis, Ore. The game will air live on ESPN2.
Friday's winner advances to the second round against the Oregon State-Troy victor.
The Bonnies posted a 23-7 overall record during the season including a 12-4 mark in Atlantic 10 play. Both the 23 overall victories and 12 conference triumphs rank second in program history.
Among the year's many accomplishments, the Bonnies ran off 16 consecutive wins between Nov. 24 and Jan. 20, defeated four teams that would reach their conference championship game and three opponents who went on to capture conference titles. St. Bonaventure ranked No. 34 in the NCAA Rating Percentage Index (RPI) and was one of just 11 teams in the nation to rank in the top 50 in RPI and record a winning record against RPI Top 25 opponents with at least two victories against such teams.
"This is for all the people who have supported us the whole way," head coach Jim Crowley said. "The best part is for our seniors who have worked so hard and done so much for us. I'm so proud of everyone on the team because they put so much work in."
It marks the sixth postseason appearance in the last eight years for St. Bonaventure. Since making their first postseason appearance with a bid to the 2009 WNIT, the Bonnies have posted an overall record of 170-89 (.656) and have won at least one postseason game in every tournament appearance.
Oklahoma State (21-9) is making its fourth NCAA Tournament appearance in a row. The No. 7 seed in the Dallas Region, Oklahoma State finished fourth in the Big 12 this season with an 11-7 mark. The Cowgirls lost to Oklahoma, 61-43, in the quarterfinals of the Big 12 Tournament. A strong defensive and rebounding team, Oklahoma State allows just 57 points per game and outrebounds its opponents by nearly eight boards per game. The Cowgirls handed Baylor, which is currently ranked fourth in the nation, its only loss this season.
Senior forward Brittney Martin leads Oklahoma State. Martin was named the Big 12 Player of the Year, earned All-America status from College Sports Madness and is on the Wade Watch list. The 6-0 Martin leads the Big 12 in scoring (20.3 points per game), rebounding (11.1) and steals (2.8). Kaylee Jensen, a 6-4 sophomore center, averages 15 points and 8.5 rebounds.
The Bonnies entered the week firmly on the bubble, but saw their season's work rewarded when their name popped up on the screen during ESPN's Selection Show.
"We saw that a lot of the teams we beat during the year were winning their conference. That gave us hope," senior Katie Healy said. "There were rumors that we were too small of a school to get in, but when our name was called it was amazing."
"We had a locked in mindset to give it all that we had to give us every chance to be successful no matter where that ended up," graduate student Emily Michael added. "We're now seeing how hard work and wanting it for each other lead to great things."
St. Bonaventure will make its first appearance in the NCAA Tournament since 2012 when the team reached the Sweet 16.
Bona is one of three Atlantic 10 teams to earn a bid to the tournament as Duquesne also earned an at-large along with conference champion George Washington.