FAIRFIELD, CONN. (March 14, 2016)—The Sacred Heart women's basketball team will play the Drake Bulldogs on Thursday, March 17 at the Knapp Center in Des Moines, Iowa in the first round of the WNIT as announced by the selection committee Monday night. The Pioneers earned the Northeast Conference's automatic bid into the WNIT after finishing as the NEC Regular Season Champions.
SHU enters the WNIT with a 20-12 mark, the eighth 20-win season in program history. Under the direction of 2016 NEC Brenda Reilly Coach of the Year Jessica Mannetti, the Pioneers posted the second best conference record in the team's history going 16-2 to win the regular season crown.
This will be Sacred Heart's second trip to the WNIT, and the first time Sacred Heart has faced Drake in the program's Division I era, which dates back to the 1999-00 season.
The Bulldogs finished the regular season 21-8 and posted a 14-4 record against Missouri Valley Conference opponents earning the No. 2 seed in the league's tournament. Drake topped Evansville in the quarterfinal before falling to the eventual champion Missouri State 65-51 in the semifinal the next day.
Hannah Kimmel (Harpursville, N.Y.) and Alissa Tarsi (Clinton, N.J.) picked up All-NEC honors at the end of the regular season. For Kimmel, this was her third All-NEC selection as she earned first team honors and was named the programs fourth NEC Player of the Year. Tarsi saved her best season for last as the senior garnered her first All-NEC selection to the second team and was named the league's Most Improved Player.
The Pioneers made their first WNIT appearance in 2013, playing at Boston University. Despite a 16-point performance from three-time All-NEC honoree Gabrielle Washington, and 14 points from Blair Koniszewski, off the bench, SHU fell to the Terriers 61-49.