fbpx

UF Woman’s Basketball: WNIT Bound – Gators Take on Charlotte in the Queen City Friday

Florida is set to compete in its first postseason in five years.
Photo By: Matt Pendleton

Courtesy of University Athletic Association

BY SAM STOLTE

Women’s basketball qualifies for postseason play, draws Charlotte in opening round action


2021 WNIT BRACKET (PDF)

 

Making its first postseason tournament appearance since 2015-16, the University of Florida women’s basketball team has accepted a bid to the Postseason WNIT and will compete in the Charlotte regional this weekend, March 19-22.
 
Appearing in the WNIT for the eighth time in program history and for the first time since 2013, the Gators are set to take on Charlotte Friday in opening round action. Tipoff is slated for 5 PM from inside Bojangles Coliseum.
 
This year’s event will start with eight teams each at four regional sites — Charlotte, N.C.; Fort Worth, Texas; Memphis, Tenn.; and Rockford, Ill.. First-round play begins Friday, March 19; Round 2 is March 20, and Round 3 is March 22. The four regional champions will advance to the Memphis site, with the semifinals tipping off March 26 and the championship game set for March 28.

“We are excited and grateful for the opportunity to compete in the postseason this year. With all of the challenges presented to us this season, we are thankful to be able to play more games with this team. I’m proud of the way our program, and that’s everyone from players, coaches, support staff, and trainers, have handled themselves through the adversity that we’ve faced and fought through together. We appreciate our medical personnel and our administration for making this all possible,” said head coach Cam Newbauer
 
All games will be available via streaming through FloHoops.
 
2021 marks the 23rd year for the Postseason WNIT and the first year the tournament has bracketed only 32 teams since 2006, as tournament officials pared the event back because of COVID-19 issues.
 
UF will play a minimum of two contests regardless of Friday’s verdict, as the tournament also features a consolation bracket.
 
The Gators have traditionally fared well in the WNIT with a 14-7 overall record and a pair of appearances in the event’s finale. UF advanced to the semifinals in 2013, its last appearance in the tournament, securing a place in the semifinals for the third time.
 
Florida is 4-3 all time in the WNIT first round play.
 
The 2020-21 campaign has been a special one for senior guard Kiki Smith. The Maryland native is averaging 19.1 points, 6.8 rebounds, and 3.8 assists per game and has scored over 20 points 10 times. The left-handed point guard is the only player in the SEC leading her team in those three categories. Smith has increased her production to even greater numbers over the stretch run of the season, averaging 23.3 points per game over her last 12 games. In that span, Smith totaled eight 20+ point games and twice she scored over 30, including the Gators’ most recent matchup against Kentucky in the SEC Tournament when she poured in career-best 36.
 
Smith and the Gators enter the postseason with an 11-13 overall record and have been without the services of All-SEC guard Lavender Briggs for the past seven games. Briggs, who became the first Florida player since Ronni Williams in 2016 to earn All-SEC honors, enjoyed one of the best seasons in program history, and she will finish with the fourth-highest points-per-game average ever by a Gator (19.4). Briggs’ scoring average in SEC play is the highest by a Florida player since the 1982-83 season, when former All-American and 1992 Olympian Tammy Jackson averaged 22.0.
 
Freshman Jordyn Merritt also was honored by the conference with an SEC All-Freshman team designation. Merritt, who joined Briggs as just the second player in program history to earn a spot in the Jordan Brand Classic just a year ago, put together a strong debut campaign with the Orange and Blue, averaging 5.6 points and 3.9 rebounds. She’s really come on strong, starting the last seven games and totaling double-figure points twice.
 
Florida is 7-1 all time against Charlotte, and the teams last squared off in 2013, a matchup in the WNIT that the Gators won, 67-65.
 
Charlotte Regional
All times ET
(In bracket order; designated home team listed second)
 
Round 1 – Friday, March 19
Game 1: Fordham (12-4) vs. Delaware (21-4), 11 a.m. 
Game 2: Ohio (14-8) vs. Clemson (11-13), 2 p.m. 
Game 3: Charlotte (10-10) vs. Florida (11-13), 5 p.m. 
Game 4: UMass (14-7) vs. Villanova (15-6), 8 p.m. 
 
Round 2 – Saturday, March 20
Consolation: Losers Game 1 and 2: 11 a.m. 
Consolation: Losers Game 3 and 4: 2 p.m. 
Championship Semifinal: Winners Game 1 and 2: 5 p.m. 
Championship Semifinal: Winners Game 3 and 4: 8 p.m. 
 
Round 3 – Monday, March 22
Consolation Final: 4 p.m. 
Championship Final: 7 p.m. 
 
Fort Worth Regional
All Time CT
(In bracket order; designated home team listed second)
 
Round 1 – Friday, March 19
Game 1: Arizona State (11-10) vs. Rice (18-4), 11 a.m. 
Game 2: Fresno State (16-10) vs. Missouri (9-11), 2 p.m. 
Game 3: San Francisco (15-10) vs. Houston (16-7), 5 p.m. 
Game 4: California Baptist (24-0) vs. New Mexico (15-4), 8 p.m. 
 
Round 2 – Saturday, March 20
Consolation: Losers Game 1 and 2: 11 a.m. 
Consolation: Losers Game 3 and 4: 2 p.m. 
Championship Semifinal: Winners Game 1 and 2: 5 p.m. 
Championship Semifinal: Winners Game 3 and 4: 8 p.m. 
  
Round 3 – Monday, March 22
Consolation Final: 4 p.m. 
Championship Final: 7 p.m. 
 
Memphis Regional
All times CT
(In bracket order; designated home team listed second)
 
Round 1 – Friday, March 19
Game 1: UT Martin (20-5) vs. Nebraska (12-12), 11 a.m. 
Game 2: Louisiana (16-6) vs. Colorado (10-10), 2 p.m. 
Game 3: Samford (14-9) vs. Ole Miss (11-11), 5 p.m. 
Game 4: Illinois State (15-7) vs. Tulane (17-8), 8 p.m. 
 
Round 2 – Saturday, March 20
Consolation: Losers Game 1 and 2: 11 a.m. 
Consolation: Losers Game 3 and 4: 2 p.m. 
Championship Semifinal: Winners Game 1 and 2: 5 p.m. 
Championship Semifinal: Winners Game 3 and 4: 8 p.m. 
 
Round 3 – Monday, March 22
Consolation Final: 4 p.m. 
Championship Final: 7 p.m. 
 
Rockford Regional
All times CT
(In bracket order; designated home team listed second)
 
Round 1 – Friday, March 19
Game 1: Northern Iowa (14-12) vs. Dayton (14-3), 11 a.m. 
Game 2: Creighton (9-11) vs. Bowling Green (20-6), 2 p.m. 
Game 3: Saint Louis (12-4) vs. DePaul (14-8), 5 p.m. 
Game 4: Milwaukee (19-7) vs. Drake (16-11), 8 p.m. 
 
Round 2 – Saturday, March 20
Consolation: Losers Game 1 and 2: 11 a.m. 
Consolation: Losers Game 3 and 4: 2 p.m. 
Championship Semifinal: Winners Game 1 and 2: 5 p.m. 
Championship Semifinal: Winners Game 3 and 4: 8 p.m. 
 
Round 3 – Monday, March 22
Consolation Final: 4 p.m. 
Championship Final: 7 p.m.