March 16, 2009
CULLOWHEE, N.C. - Western Carolina women's basketball drew its highest seed in school history, with a 13 seed, in the NCAA Women's Basketball Tournament. The Lady Catamounts will face No. 4 seed and 14th ranked Vanderbilt at 8 p.m. Eastern Saturday March 21 in Albuquerque, New Mexico (in the Raleigh region) in The Pit/Bob King Court.
"I think getting a 13 seed is a big deal for this program," said Head Coach Kellie Harper. "We felt like we had the resume if the selection committee did their homework. I am really proud for our kids. It's a big step."
The No. 13 seed by Western Carolina is the third-highest seed for a Southern Conference school. Chattanooga drew a No. 10 seed in 2004 knocking off No. 7 seeded Rutgers and there have mulitple No. 12 seeds for SoCon schools.
This is the second appearance in school history by Western Carolina in the NCAA Tournament. In 2005, the Lady Catamounts were a 16 seed and faced No. 1 seed Tennessee, falling 94-43 in Knoxville.
Both Western Carolina (21-11) and Vanderbilt (24-8) won its respective conference tournaments. The Lady Catamounts defeated College of Charleston in a three-overtime thriller, 101-87, and the Commodores were victorious over Auburn 61-54 in the SEC Tournament. This will be the first meeting between the two schools and the second SEC opponent Western Carolina will face in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.
"I am so excited, it's been a long season and we have come along way," said freshman guard Kaila'Shea Menendez. "I am glad I chose Western Carolina because we are doing big things here."
Fans can follow the Lady Catamounts in their trek out west to New Mexico in varying ways. Up to date twitter messages on Western Carolina can be found at www.twitter.com/catamounts and fans can also follow the game on the Catamount Sports Network. Junior forward Kristen Feemster will also be providing the NCAA edition of her blog later in the week.
Ticket information will be available on catamountsports.com beginning at 9 a.m. Tuesday. NCAA tickets will be available to Catamount Club members and sponsors Tuesday and to the general public on Wednesday.
The Lady Catamounts discovered their seeding at their NCAA selection party held by the Western Carolina Athletic Department. Over 500 fans gathered at Illusions in the UC, on the Western Carolina University campus, to share the excitement with the women's basketball team.
"The support was amazing tonight by our fans," Harper said. "When I got up on the stage and saw how many people were actually here, I realized we are truly blessed and so proud we have these type of fans."