Washington State’s women’s basketball team went three decades without an NCAA tournament appearance. Now, for the first time, the Cougars are going back to back.
WSU earned a berth to the Big Dance on Selection Sunday for the second consecutive season — and third in program history. The eighth-seeded Cougs (19-10) will meet No. 9 seed Kansas State (19-12) in the first round on Saturday in Raleigh, North Carolina.
It’s been a meteoric rise for WSU over the past four seasons under coach Kamie Ethridge. The Cougs had only ever qualified for the NCAA tourney once — in 1991 — before last year’s breakthrough campaign. The ninth-seeded Cougars lost to No. 8 seed South Florida 57-53 in the opening round of the 2020-21 national tournament.
Last season was arguably the best in Coug women’s hoops history. Their encore was even better.
WSU set program records in wins this year in the NCAA era — both overall and in conference play (11) — and finished higher than it ever had in the Pac-12 standings, tying for second place.
Before falling to Utah in the quarterfinal round of the Pac-12 tournament earlier this month, the Cougars secured their spot in the field with impressive wins over fellow tourney qualifiers Arizona, Miami, Gonzaga and Colorado. They won five of their final six regular-season games, including an upset of No. 8 Arizona, before falling to Utah in the quarterfinal round of the Pac-12 tournament earlier this month.
Should WSU defeat Kansas State for the program’s first NCAA tourney victory, the Cougs will most likely have to face No. 1 seed North Carolina State.