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Star-Bulletin Sports

Monday, March 13, 2000

W A H I N E _ B A S K E T B A L L

Wahine get
the call from NIT

The University of Hawaii women's
basketball team is passed over
for an NCAA bid but
will play on at St. Mary's

By Al Chase


The telephone call the University of Hawaii women's basketball team wanted did not come yesterday, but the call they received was better than the no-call at the end of the Rice game last Friday.

Three and a half hours after the NCAA announced the participants in the 64-team tournament field that did not include the Wahine, the Women's National Invitation Tournament invited Hawaii.

The Wahine will play host St. Mary's (Calif.) Thursday in a first-round game. Should the Wahine win, they would play the winner of Long Beach State at New Mexico.

The Hawaii players kept head coach Vince Goo's office telephone busy once the NCAA verdict was known.

"I think they are happy their season is continuing," Goo said. "It's been a very up and down day for us."

The Wahine lost to St. Mary's, 71-68, in overtime in the 1998 Hawaii Invitational. That's the game Hedy Liu's basket at the end of regulation was ruled to have left her hand after the buzzer.

"The Gaels were all freshmen and sophomores at that time. They are a year older and a good team," Goo said. "They are 19-9 and finished second in the West Coast Conference.

"We're a bit disappointed we're not at home to play for our fans, but we're happy," said Wahine co-captain Raylene Howard.

"If we go all the way, then a 25-8 record is respectable. We just have to readjust our goals and plan on winning the whole thing. Otherwise we might as well stay at home."

Only two UH players showed up to watch yesterday's NCAA Selection Show on television at the Stan Sheriff Center. Most were still trying to catch up after arriving back on campus at 3 a.m. yesterday thanks to a two-hour delay sitting in the airplane at Los Angeles.

The mood was quiet, but not surprising after the tough loss to Rice compounded by the Owls' victory in the Western Athletic Conference championship game over Southern Methodist .

"Our RPI is at 56 through Saturday's games and our strength of nonconference schedule is 33. That's the big thing the selection committee goes to when they come down to the last selections," said Goo.

"When I saw BYU come up and their RPI is 53 and strength of nonconference schedule is 128, I knew that was a space maybe we could have gotten in.

"Then, when Pepperdine got in and their RPI was 70 and strength of nonconference schedule was 167, I knew there wouldn't be a spot for us.

"If it was SMU and us in the final, we'd both go. The only way Rice was going to get in was to win the tournament. That's shows you how much hinged on Friday's game."

In the first round of the NCAA tournament, SMU (21-8) plays North Carolina State (20-8) while Rice (21-9) meets UC Santa Barbara (30-3).

The Wahine (20-8) are the only WAC team in the WNIT.

Women's NIT

All times TBA
First Round
Wednesday, March 15

Fairfield (25-7) at Wisconsin (16-12)
DePaul (17-11) at Western Michigan (18-11)
Villanova (15-14) at Michigan State (17-11)
Wichita State (20-9) at Arkansas (14-14)
Evansville (23-6) at Missouri (17-11)
Florida (17-12) at Dayton (15-14)
Arkansas State (18-11) at Memphis (17-11)

Thursday, March 16

Long Beach State (20-10) at New Mexico (18-10)
Hawaii (20-8) at St. Mary's, Calif. (19-9)
Arizona State (14-14) at Colorado State (20-9)
Southern Cal (15-13) at Santa Clara (21-8)
Cincinnati (17-12) at Pittsburgh (16-12)
Alabama (15-13) at Chattanooga (25-4)
Southern Mississippi (17-12) at Georgia Tech (15-13)
Georgetown (17-12) at Maryland (14-14)
Georgia State (24-6) at Virginia Tech (19-10)

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