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NDSU submits bid to WNIT, hoping to host postseason games

Despite disappointing exit at Summit League tournament, Bison excited for another chance

The 2023 Summit League Basketball Championship
North Dakota State head coach Jory Collins, center, huddles with his team during timeout against Kansas City at the Summit League women's basketball tournament Saturday, March 4, 2023, at the Denny Sanford Premier Center in Sioux Falls, S.D.
Richard Carlson/Richard Carlson/Inertia

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. — North Dakota State's hopes for an impressive run in the Summit League women's basketball tournament ended with a crushing thud in the Bison's first game at the Denny Sanford Premier Center. That doesn't mean the season is finished.

NDSU submitted bids to host first- and second-round games in the Women's National Invitational Tournament, a 64-team postseason competition for teams that didn't make the NCAA. The Bison secured the Summit League's automatic bid to the WNIT by earning the second seed in the conference tournament.

The WNIT field will be announced Sunday, March 12, after the NCAA tournament bracket is set.

NDSU made an earlier-than-expected exit from the Summit League tournament Saturday, losing 71-64 to 10th-seeded Kansas City.

"I know they're excited about the opportunity to keep on playing and to kind of turn the narrative from the other day to now because I think the future is really bright for our women's basketball program," NDSU athletic director Matt Larsen said. "If we can get an opportunity to get a home game, that'd be great."


Larsen said NDSU submitted close to the minimum bids of $6,500 for first-round games and $7,500 for second-round games mandated by the WNIT.

First-round games will be March 15-17 with second-round games March 18-19. Brackets are largely regionalized. South Dakota State won the tournament last year and hosted Ohio, Minnesota and Drake to reach the Final Four. The Jackrabbits hosted Alabama in the semifinals and beat Seton Hall in the championship at Frost Arena in Brookings, S.D.

While SDSU packed its home arena, it's unlikely the Bison would fill the 5,460-seat Scheels Center. NDSU averaged 839 fans in 12 home games, with the biggest crowd being 1,759 for an early nonconference game against Minnesota.

Still, Larsen said, the opportunity for NDSU to host a game was paramount.

"I think it is an investment. I look at what we do on a day-to-day basis as an investment in success and opportunity," Larsen said. "If that means if we break even, maybe make a little or lose a little, I think it's worth having the opportunity for our team to play at home. There's always a greater chance to be successful when you're at home."

NDSU is 12-6 in the Summit League, 18-11 overall. The Bison are 11-1 at home and 6-9 on the road.

The second seed was the Bison's highest finish since moving to Division I for the 2004-05 season.

Head coach Jory Collins said his team would be excited to extend the season.


"It'd be another step for our team, a chance to generate some interest," Collins said last week. "If we played a big-name team at home, I think the fans would turn out. It'd be fun."

Mike McFeely is a columnist for The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead. He began working for The Forum in the 1980s while he was a student studying journalism at Minnesota State University Moorhead. He's been with The Forum full time since 1990, minus a six-year hiatus when he hosted a local radio talk-show.
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