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WBIT Creating Newfound Attention For Women’s College Basketball

Penn State women’s basketball defeated Mississippi State 92-87 in the WBIT quarterfinals Thursday night at the Bryce Jordan Center in a tight, fast-paced contest.

The Lady Lions now claim 22 wins, while the Bulldogs finished their season with 23. Both teams had good regular seasons and Mississippi State head coach Sam Purcell said both teams felt like they should’ve made the NCAA Tournament.

Despite the game not being a part of March Madness, the two teams still fought to win in the postseason, an opportunity that became possible through the creation of the WBIT.

The tournament, although new, has given 32 teams the chance to play extra games, and the teams selected have been pleased with how the tournament’s been run so far.

“I think [the WBIT] is awesome. It’s everything. It’s huge,” Purcell said after the loss to Penn State. “We show up in March, so for us to get the opportunity to [not make the NCAA Tournament] but still win two games, it’s a statement.”

Penn State head coach Carolyn Kieger said Penn State is also maximizing its placement in a postseason tournament and playing as if the WBIT is a chance to prove the NCAA Tournament selection committee wrong.

“Unfortunately, obviously, we fell short of the NCAA Tournament goal, but we’re making the most of it. We’re winning in March. This is going to propel us for next year,” Kieger said.

Purcell reflected on Mississippi State’s second-round matchup with TCU and believes one of its players is the reason the WBIT was created.

Sedona Prince, a senior forward for the Horned Frogs, posted a video on TikTok calling out the NCAA for the discrepancies between the men’s and women’s NCAA Tournaments and the resources the men’s teams were given compared to the women’s team. The video garnered 12.3 million views and sent the sports world into a frenzy.

“Think about it, if she doesn’t put that out, are we having these discussions for women’s athletics and women’s basketball?” Purcell said. “Then the NCAA to back it up and then show that women’s basketball is pretty big. It’s a fun sport to watch and we need to pour into it and give it the same opportunities that men’s sports get.”

The installation of the new tournament created new support from fans, and both coaches are proud of the energy that’s been brought to the games, especially at the Bryce Jordan Center on Thursday.

“I hate that we had to play them here at their place because there was an energy there in the second half,” Purcell said. “I want to credit the fans that I thought really just helped provide an extra energy for them there. I just thought there was an energy and a buzz there.”

Kieger also said women’s sports are at an all-time high and fans should recognize that and continue to support not only her team but every team in Happy Valley.

“It’s exploding right now and it’s a great time to be in women’s sports. It’s a great time to support women’s sports, and I think this team is really fun to watch, just like our volleyball, just like our soccer team, just like our field hockey, our lacrosse team,” she said. “I just encourage all Penn State fans to keep coming out, keep supporting our women’s sports, and if you come and if you build it, the game will continue to grow.”

Although the Lady Lions’ home stand has come to an end and they won’t play any more games at the Bryce Jordan Center, the team isn’t done yet. With a matchup against top-seeded Villanova set for Monday, April 1, at Hinkle Fieldhouse in Indianapolis, Kieger noted Penn State has yet to reach its goals.

“We’re not done. We’re not satisfied. Obviously, we want to keep winning. We want to keep playing together,” she said.

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About the Author

Michael Siroty

Michael Siroty is a freshman from Westfield, New Jersey, majoring in broadcast journalism. When he isn't writing articles or making TikToks for Onward State, Siroty is either taking a peaceful walk around Beaver Stadium or at his summer day camp job. You can contact him to discuss your sushi order or music taste on Instagram and Twitter @msiroty or by email at [email protected].

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