Lady Griz Host Cougars Wednesday in WNIT

Somebody please turn the lights inside Dahlberg Arena back on. The Lady Griz aren’t done hosting games quite yet.

Montana will host Washington State Wednesday at 7 p.m. in the first round of the 64-team Women’s National Invitation Tournament, it was announced Monday night.

It will be Montana’s 26th national tournament appearance and its fourth time playing in the WNIT.

The Montana-Washington State game will be one of five WNIT matchups taking place Wednesday on the opening day of the tournament.

The winner of Wednesday’s game will face the winner of the San Diego-Cal Poly game being played Thursday at San Diego. The two winners will meet in the round of 32 at a host site in the March 22-25 window.

Tickets for Wednesday’s game will go on sale Tuesday morning at 8:30 a.m. Season ticket holders will have until 1 p.m. to purchase their seats before they are released to the public. Prices range from $6 for general admission tickets to $25 for courtside seats. UM students can purchase tickets for $4.

“It’s a cool deal to be able to play at home, and it’s a nice reward for a team that’s had a good season,” UM coach Robin Selvig said.

Washington State will take a 17-16 record into Wednesday’s game. The Cougars finished seventh in the Pac-12 with a record of 9-9.

The six teams that finished ahead of WSU are all going to national tournaments: Stanford, California, Oregon State, Arizona State and USC to the NCAA tournament, Washington to the WNIT. Colorado and Oregon of the Pac-12 also made the WNIT.

Washington State had four wins this season over teams that were at the time ranked in the top 25.

“Obviously we don’t know a lot about them at this point, but I know they have a lot of good wins this year and are going to be a talented team,” Selvig said. “Everybody in the field is pretty good.”

North Dakota earned the Big Sky Conference’s automatic bid to the NCAA tournament and will face Texas A&M Sunday at College Station, Texas. Southern Utah received the Big Sky’s automatic bid to the WNIT. The Thunderbirds will play at Colorado State Thursday.

Montana (22-10, 14-6 BSC), which finished third in the Big Sky in the regular season, one game behind co-champions UND and SUU, received an at-large selection to the WNIT, which has 35 teams with 20 or more wins.

The Lady Griz will go into Wednesday’s game with a change in its starting lineup for the first time this season after senior point guard Torry Hill suffered a season-ending knee injury in Saturday’s Big Sky tournament championship game loss at North Dakota.

Montana, whose only other senior is forward Jordan Sullivan, also will be without its backup point guard, redshirt sophomore Haley Vining, who also has a knee injury.

“It will be a taste of the future without Torry out there,” said Selvig.

Montana went 14-1 at home this season. The team’s only loss this winter at Dahlberg Arena came against Temple, 61-52 on Dec. 14.