Wright State women to play Arkansas in NCAA tourney

Raiders face Razorbacks next Monday in first-round game

FAIRBORN -- As the Wright State women’s basketball team gathered at the Nutter Center for an NCAA Selection Show watch party Monday night, athletic director Bob Grant looked on like a proud papa.

He’s the one who promoted Katrina Merriweather to coach when predecessor Mike Bradbury left for New Mexico five years ago. And that’s turned out to be a home-run hire.

The Raiders (18-7) will be making their third appearance to the NCAAs as a program and second under Merriweather when they face fourth-seeded Arkansas at 2 p.m. Monday on ESPN.

The Horizon League tourney champs are a 13 seed and were placed in the Alamo Region, where Stanford (26-2) is the No. 1 seed.

The coaches and players jumped out of their chairs on the court when they saw “Wright State” pop up on the bracket. ESPN cameras were in place to show them celebrating.

The 15th-ranked Razorbacks (19-8) were knocked off in the first round of the SEC tourney but were picked as an at-large selection.

“There’s a huge sense of pride. ‘Trina is as good as it gets. She has been phenomenal for this team, phenomenal for this university, such an ambassador for us. I couldn’t be happier,” Grant said.

“It’s hard enough winning a championship, but to do it during Covid when you’re testing multiple times a week, isolated most of the year — she’s kept that team together. Their togetherness is as impressive as any team I’ve seen.”

In 2019, the Raiders took a 27-6 record into the tourney but lost to Texas A&M, 84-61, on the road as a 13 seed.

In 2014, they were 26-9 and drew Kentucky as a 14 seed. They were hammered in Lexington, 106-60.

“I talked to ‘Trina today, and it feels like we’re not just happy to be there — like, ‘Hey, we’re here.’ We want to do some damage when we’re there,” Grant said.

“She’s been there before, that helps for sure. When you have players like Angel Baker, who have been there, that helps for sure.”

The entire tournament will be played in San Antonio and south Texas. There will be 64 teams and 63 games starting Sunday.

The sites will be the University of Texas at Austin, St. Mary’s University, Texas State, the UTSA Convocation Center and two arenas in the Alamodome.

Families, but no fans, will be allowed to attend the opening rounds. There will be limited spectators (up to 17% of capacity) for the regionals and Final Four.

“Obviously, we think we do a lot of things right, but we’re still here to win games in all our sports. So, when they get to the pinnacle like this, it’s a lot of fun to watch 18- to 22-year-olds have unbridled joy when they find out who they’re playing and realize they’ve made it to the Big Dance,” Grant said.

“You don’t know when these things will come along again. You just don’t know. You cherish these moments for sure.”

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