By Logan Lowery
STARKVILLE – Mississippi State makes its return to the women’s basketball postseason tonight for the first time since 2010.
The Bulldogs will host Tulane in the first round of the WNIT at 7 p.m. inside Humphrey Coliseum. It is the first postseason appearance for any current member of the MSU roster and marks the first under second-year coach Vic Schaefer.
“Our players can come back in here from now until the day they die and there’s going to be a banner hanging in the Hump that has their year on it,” Schaefer said. “Certainly in the future we want that to say NCAA Tournament, but for now it’s a great step for this team knowing where we were last year and where those kids were two years ago.”
The Bulldogs closed the regular season at 18-12 and went 1-1 in the SEC tournament, finishing with a winning record for the first time since advancing to the Sweet 16 at the NCAA tournament in 2009-10.
“We are excited that we’re playing in the postseason,” said MSU junior center Martha Alwal. “But we can’t just be satisfied with making it to the postseason, we have to go into the tournament and make a big run.”
State is 4-7 all-time in the WNIT last appearing in the tournament in 2008. The Bulldogs have lost two straight and four of their last five in the WNIT but are 2-1 at home.
It is the second time the Bulldogs have hosted Tulane at the event winning 79-73 in the second round in 2007.
The Green Wave lead the overall series 5-4, with the Bulldogs prevailing 75-50 in the last meeting in Starkville on Dec. 4, 2011. But the two teams have also played the past two preseasons in a scrimmage that has been closed to the public.
“We’ve got a great opponent in Tulane,” Schaefer said. “It’s somebody that we’re semi-familiar with in the fact we’ve scrimmaged them the past two years in the preseason with the doors closed, which is a good thing because they’ve handed us our tail two years in a row in late October. Obviously we’re a lot different team than we were then and I’m sure they feel the same way.”
Tulane enters tonight’s contest at 20-10 and marks the fourth consecutive year the Green Wave have appeared in the WNIT. Lisa Stockston’s squad reached the Sweet 16 at the event last season.
The victor of tonight’s game will face the Southern Miss-Lamar winner in the second round.