Clockwise, from left: BGSU's [#40] Jill Stein, Miriam Justinger, Alexis Rogers, and [#21] Erica Donovan congratulate Jillian Halfhill [the shortest] after she is fouled sinking a three point shot.
BOWLING GREEN — After losing in the Mid-American Conference tournament last week, the Bowling Green State University women’s basketball team had to prepare itself for the thought that it might not earn an at-large bid in the NCAA tournament.
Still, the NCAA selection committee delivered a bit of a sucker punch when the tournament field was announced Monday night.
Not only did the Falcons not make the tournament, they were listed as the one of the final teams eliminated from the 64-team field.
Instead, Bowling Green, MAC regular-season champs, received an automatic berth in the Women’s National Invitation Tournament. The Falcons’ opponent, as well as the site, date, and time for that contest, were not announced as of press time.
Charlie Crème, an ESPN women’s basketball analyst who follows the women’s brackets, was sympathetic to the Falcons’ plight.
“I understand that [not getting a bid] can be hard to accept,” he said. “You feel you did enough to get in [to the tournament], and you fall one spot short — that’s a tough pill to swallow.”
BG (27-4) is the winningest team to not make the NCAA tournament — in fact, 46 teams with worse records are in the 64-team field (71.9 percent).
Only one team with a higher RPI than BG’s 36 did not make the tournament (Southern Mississippi at 27), and six other teams with higher RPIs received at-large bids.
Crème said the Falcons missed out on their 11th NCAA tournament appearance because of a combination of factors, including a 73-55 loss to Ball State in the MAC semifinals and an 0-2 record against nonconference opponents who made the NCAA — losing to Purdue and Marist.
“All of these teams [on the bubble] have proven they can lose to good teams, but the trend is to [pick teams that] prove that they can beat good teams,” Crème said. “The committee can only look at what is in front of it, and [Bowling Green] did not beat any [nonconference] teams in the tournament.
“You can say that other [teams] had more opportunities, but it is what it is. And when BG lost in the semis of the tournament, it’s hard to fight for a team that lost by 18.”
Instead, the Falcons will make their sixth appearance in the WNIT, making that tournament for the third year in a row and fifth time since 2008. Last season Bowling Green advanced to the third round before losing to eventual champ Drexel 50-47 at the Stroh Center.
The Falcons have a 4-5 all-time record in the WNIT. Two other MAC teams are also in the tournament — Ball State and Central Michigan.