West Virginia athletic director Shane Lyons announced that the West Virginia women’s basketball team would turn down its invitation to the Women’s NIT, just hours after the NIT announced it invited the Mountaineers.
Lyons cited several factors in a release sent by West Virginia athletics.
“While we appreciate the invitation for our women’s basketball team to participate in the 2022 WNIT, we have made the difficult decision to decline the invite this year,” Lyons said. “Team injuries, along with student-athletes set to enter the transfer portal, have limited our roster availability, and we would not be able to provide a competitive or positive experience for our student-athletes.”
It’s an unfortunate development for a program that has had success in the WNIT in the past.
West Virginia (15-15) won its first-round game in the Big 12 Tournament, beating TCU. The Mountaineers then lost to Iowa State in the quarterfinals. The win over TCU was important, as it ensured the Mountaineers would have a .500 record, regardless of the result against Iowa State. That appeared to enhance their odds of getting into the WNIT, as the Mountaineers received an automatic bid.
The Mountaineers were the No. 7 seed in the Big 12 Tournament and played for the last month of the season without their leading scorer KK Deans, who missed the rest of the season with an injury.
West Virginia has had previous success in the WNIT under current head coach Mike Carey. The Mountaineers last played in the WNIT in 2019, when they reached the third round. In 2018 the Mountaineers reached the WNIT semifinal and reached the championship game in 2015. There, UCLA defeated West Virginia in what was essentially a home game for the Mountaineers in Charleston, WV.
The Mountaineers also made WNIT appearances in 1985, 2005 and 2009. The Mountaineers reached the championship game in 2005, where they lost to Missouri State.
This year’s WNIT will return to its pre-pandemic format of 64 teams. Last year, Rice defeated Ole Miss to win the championships.
2022 Women’s Postseason NIT Schedule
Round 1 – March 16-18
Round 2 – March 19-22
Round 3 – March 23-26
Quarterfinals – March 26-28
Semifinals – March 30-31
Championship – Saturday, April 2
You can find Matthew Postins on Twitter @PostinsPostcard.