UNC Asheville will play top seed South Carolina in NCAA Women's Tourney
ASHEVILLE, N.C. – With over 100 fans, supporters and boosters gathered inside the Mountain View Room of the Wilma M. Sherrill Center, the UNC Asheville women's basketball team learned their seeding and first round opponent of the 2017 NCAA Women's Basketball Tournament Monday night.
The Bulldogs (19-14), the 16-seed in the Stockton (Ca.) Regional, will be staying close to home for the first round, traveling down I-26 to Columbia, S.C., to take on the overall No. 2 seed in the tournament, South Carolina on Friday at 5 p.m. on ESPN2.
The Bulldogs are making their second appearance in the Big Dance in as many years and third in program history after claiming back-to-back Big South Conference tournament crowns. The 2017 crown is the third in program history. Last season, the Bulldogs faced off against Kentucky in the first round of the 2016 tournament and in 2007 Asheville jetted off to Austin, Texas, to face off against LSU.
UNC Asheville (19-14) became the first Big South Conference women's basketball team to win four games in four days and claim the Big South Conference Women's Basketball Championship with a 49-48 win over top-seeded Radford at the Vines Center on Sunday, March 12.
UNC Asheville also became the first seventh seed to win the Big South Conference Women's Basketball Championship with their impressive run.
UNC Asheville took three spots on the 2017 Big South Conference Women's Basketball Championship All-Tournament Team with sophomore guard Sonora Dengokl, junior center Bronaza Fitzgerald and senior guard Chatori Major all earning a spot on the team. Dengokl was chosen as the Most Valuable Player of the tournament.
On opening the NCAA Tournament in Columbia, S.C.
"Obviously we know that South Carolina is a very good team. After coaching for five years in the SEC as an assistant at Florida before coming up to UNC Asheville, I gained some familiarity with all the great work that Dawn Staley is doing down there and how tough they are with their mentality and the way they play. That being said, we are super excited that our first round opponent is close. From a fan's perspective it's terrific. The game will be on Friday, hopefully in the evening so our fans can get down there. The kids are just excited to be playing. We just finished playing four games in four days, we're only 28 hours from having celebrated the championship, so there are still a lot of emotions going on and we're just digesting everything that has gone on. We will need to pause and obviously get some game film watched and put together a game plan for South Carolina to get ready to take that next step and shift from the Big South tournament onto the next level." – Brenda Mock Kirkpatrick
On carrying over the momentum from the Big South Championships
"Our girls have a lot of resolve, they are very resilient. I believe confidence is a key descriptor of this team right now. They don't seem to be phased by adversity, especially in games whether it be having a lead and someone coming back or having to come from behind to take a lead to win in the last five seconds of a game. We're extremely privileged and blessed to be in this situation and I think our confidence will help. I also think our experience last year of having to go to Kentucky, another SEC opponent, will be beneficial. The girls know it's going to be tough, but they also know what to expect in terms of an NCAA Tournament experience and that can only help us."- Brenda Mock Kirkpatrick