As the Women’s Basketball Invitational gets underway for the tenth season, a walk down memory lane provides a look at some of the most exciting highlights of the tournament over the last nine years.
So, while you are preparing to enjoy the best of March basketball, enjoy reading about some outstanding moments in WBI history.
The inaugural WBI opens with a 16-team field. Appalachian State wins the title after coming back from a 19-point deficit against Memphis. It was the first postseason championship for ASU since winning the Southern Conference Tournament crown in 1999. After winning the WBI, ASU entered the next season ranked second in the conference’s preseason polls.
Elon set the record for most points scored in game by team in the WBI with a 103-72 win over USC Upstate on March 17, 2011.
UAB captured the title that year with a 68-60 victory over Cal State Bakersfield. The win capped the first 20-win season for UAB since 2000-01.
Led by scoring machine Rachel Banham who put up 26 points, the Minnesota Gophers earned the 2012 WBI crown with an 88-74 comeback victory over Northern Iowa. The title bookended the first winning season for Minnesota since 2008-09.
Caitlyn Baggett of McNeese State set the all-time WBI record for most points scored in a game by an individual with a 38-point outing in the first round. She was also perfect from the line (17-of17) and only one point shy of the school free throw record.
The Detroit Mercy Titans topped McNeese State in the tournament final, 73-62, led by a prolific Shareta Brown who scored 28 points and pulled down 14 rebounds. It was the first postseason tournament win for Detroit since 1981
When UIC won the WBI Championship in 2014, it marked the end of the best season in program history so far for the Flames. With a 73-64 victory over Stephen F. Austin, UIC finished the season with a 26-9 record. Sophomore Ruvanna Campbell was named MVP of the WBI after earning 18 points, 12 rebounds and a WBI-record eight blocks in the final game.
Louisiana began its reign as back-to-back champions of the WBI in 2015. Led by tournament MVP Keke Veal, the Ragin’ Cajuns took down Siena 52-50 in the title game. Both Louisiana and Siena ended the season with 20+ wins. Louisiana earned a 23-12 record while Siena finished at 22-13.
Louisiana’s Veal set the WBI tournament record for most steals in the tournament at 16 in 2016. Earning a second straight title was not easy for the Ragin’ Cajuns as it took two overtimes for them to overcome Weber State in the title game. Louisiana finished the season with a 25-10 record, tying the program record for most wins in a single season (2006-07).
With a fairly new head coach at the helm, Rice won the 2017 WBI title after outlasting UNC Greensboro 74-62. In her second year as the head coach of the Owls, Tina Langley guided Rice to 22 wins and the program’s first ever postseason title outside of a conference tournament.
Since winning the WBI, Rice continues to soar. The past season, the Owls landed in the national polls and finished the regular season undefeated in conference play.
By winning the WBI title, Yale concluded its best-ever season at that point. The Bulldogs traveled to Conway, Arkansas to take on the Sugar Bears of Central Arkansas for the WBI Championship.
With a 54-50 victory over Central Arkansas, Yale became the first-ever Ivy League team to win a national postseason women's basketball tournament.
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