SPORTS

UNI earns 10th seed in NCAA women's basketball tournament

Panthers open Friday against DePaul

Northern Iowa head coach Tanya Warren (right) and associate coach Brad Nelson talk with a player in the second period at a women’s basketball game against Iowa in December. The Panthers earned an at-large berth in the NCAA tournament on Monday, (Rebecca F. Miller/The Gazette)
Northern Iowa head coach Tanya Warren (right) and associate coach Brad Nelson talk with a player in the second period at a women’s basketball game against Iowa in December. The Panthers earned an at-large berth in the NCAA tournament on Monday, (Rebecca F. Miller/The Gazette)

CEDAR FALLS — The UNI women’s basketball team is dancing at the “Big Dance.”

The 10th-seeded Panthers were selected to the 2017 NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament on Monday and will play No. 7 DePaul on Friday in Starkville, Miss., in the Oklahoma City Region.

Tipoff is set for 11 a.m. on ESPN2.

It is the third time in program history the Panthers have secured a spot in the NCAA tournament, also appearing in back-to-back seasons in 2010 and 2011. The selection is the first at-large bid the Missouri Valley Conference has received since 2013 and just the 11th in conference history.

This is UNI’s seventh postseason appearance in the last eight seasons.

The Panthers are coming off another historic season.

UNI has 24 wins, the first time in school history the Panthers have had back-to-back seasons with 20-plus victories. They finished second during the MVC regular season and made a run to the MVC tournament championship game for the second consecutive year.

MVC champion Drake also received a No. 10 seed and will open against Kansas State on Saturday.

UNI has played against the DePaul Demons three times in program history (1983, 1985, 2001) with the 2001 game taking place in the WNIT.

The Panthers enter the NCAA tournament with a 24-8 overall record, which included a 9-5 non-conference finish. UNI has faced off against eight teams ranked inside the top-100 in RPI, beating three inside the top-60 and is the only Valley school with two top-25 RPI wins.

It is the eighth straight season that UNI has won 17 or more games and is the ninth season in a row the Panthers have finished in the top-half of the Valley standings.

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