MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — A losing record in Big 12 play and their 57 RPI made the West Virginia women a long shot to reach the NCAA tournament.
After being bypassed for an at-large bid Monday night, the Mountaineers (21-11) settled for a WNIT slot and will host Bucknell in a first-round matchup Thursday.
A 13-0 start to the season soared West Virginia to a No. 9 ranking in the AP poll in December, but the return of All-Big 12 guard Tynice Martin from an August foot injury never materialized, forcing last season’s 18-points-per-game scorer to redshirt.
Injuries to forward Krista King, point guard Chania Ray and reserve Anja Martin also factored as the Mountaineers struggled to an 8-10 regular-season mark in the Big 12. Splitting league tournament games against Oklahoma State and Texas — both of whom made the NCAA field — was not quite enough to salvage a bid for coach Mike Carey’s team.
The NCAA selection committee revealed that WVU was among the eight bubble teams considered for the final four at-large spots.
The most controversial bid went to Oklahoma (16-14), whose overall record was among the worst ever for an at-large team. The Sooners have a 35 RPI and swept two games from West Virginia, including a 79-77 win in Morgantown on Feb. 17 that appears to have been a swing game.