MORAGA, Calif. - The Saint Mary's women's basketball team (21-10) earned its third consecutive Women's National Inviational Tournament bid, it was announced on Monday night. The Gaels will host UNLV (22-9) in McKeon Pavilion on Thursday night. The Gaels have had four previous WNIT appearances, with the only victory coming during the 1999-2000 campaign.
"Although our goal is to receive a bid to the NCAA Tournament, we are both happy and proud to participate in our third consecutive WNIT," said head coach Paul Thomas. "Playing UNLV will be a very good contest for us. They are well respected and play very hard. The Gaels will have to be on top of their game to come out a winner."
The last two seasons, the Gaels have hosted WNIT first-round games with losses to Utah (2009-10) and Nevada (2010-11). Saint Mary's is 0-2 all-time against the Runnin' Rebels, having played UNLV in both 2002 and 2004.
Saint Mary's has one of the top RPI's in the West Region, entering the WNIT at No. 51. The Gaels have faced several NCAA Tournament teams this season, including wins over Gonzaga and Brigham Young. Other NCAA qualifying teams the Gaels have faced include DePaul, UC Santa Barbara and California.
If the Gaels can win a couple games in the WNIT, they have a shot to set the school record for rebounds in a single season. Entering the week ranked No. 9 in the nation in Rebounding Margin, Saint Mary's has 1,308 rebounds this season. The school single-season record is 1,420.