The University of San Diego women’s basketball team learned late Monday that its season will continue and for the second straight season, Coach Cindy Fisher’s Toreros will compete in the 64-team Women’s National Invitational Tournament.
The 21-9 Toreros, 12-4 and second in the West Coast Conference and who lost to Gonzaga in the WCC Tournament final, will host Hawaii in a first-round WNIT game at 6 p.m., Thursday, March 21, in the Jenny Craig Pavilion.
The Toreros will make their third overall appearance in the WNIT, which opens with five games Wednesday, 23 Thursday and four on Friday. This is the postseason tournament in which USD reached the semifinals last year, losing to eventual champion Oklahoma State, after wins over Cal State Northridge, University of the Pacific, Texas Tech and Washington.
The Toreros, 4-2 all-time in WNIT games, are led this season by All-WCC junior guard-forward Amy Kame averaging 15.9 points 4.5 rebounds and has a team-high 117 assists and 75 steals. Other USD standouts include Katelyn McDaniel (10.5 points, 6.5 rebounds), WCC Newcomer of the Year Maya Hood (10.4, 4.6) and Klara Wischer (7.6, team-high 7.1 rebounds average).
Hawaii (17-13, 13-5 Big West Conference) makes its first postseason appearance in 10 years, but seventh in the WNIT and 12th in postseason history. Hawaii, which tied Cal Poly for second in the Big West, last played March 14, losing to Cal State Fullerton in the Big West Tournament. The Rainbow Wahine are led by junior forward Kamilah Martin, who averages 15.4 points, 9.9 rebounds and 33 minutes in 30 games this season.
The Toreros, BYU and St. Mary’s are representing the WCC in the WNIT field. Hawaii is one of four Big West teams, joined by UC Santa Barbara, Long Beach State and Pacific.
The teams played a few common opponents this season. USD lost to Cal Poly in its second game of the season, but defeated Long Beach State and swept its two WCC games with the University of San Francisco (USF). Hawaii lost to USF early, but swept Long Beach State and split two with Cal Poly in conference play.
The winner of Thursday’s USD-Hawaii game will play the Long Beach State-Utah winner in the second round later this week.
— Ryan T. Blystone