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NIU accepts Women’s Basketball Invitational bid, will play Georgia Southern in first round

The Huskies will continue their season in the WBI, hosted in Lexington, Ky.

COLLEGE BASKETBALL: FEB 15 Women’s Northern Illinois at Bowling Green Photo by Scott W. Grau/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

After compiling its first winning record since the 2018-19 season, Northern Illinois received a spot in the Women’s Basketball Invitational on Selection Sunday. The Huskies’ acceptance of the bid marks the program’s first appearance in a postseason tournament in six years.

The WBI is an eight-team tournament, and it guarantees three games for each team as it features a consolation bracket. The event will run from March 17-19, and all games will be played at the Clive M. Beck Center on the campus of Transylvania University in Lexington, Ky.

Northern Illinois drew Georgia Southern in the first round of action, and the two teams will tip off on Friday, March 17 at 7:30 p.m. This will be the first ever meeting on the hardwood between the Huskies and the Eagles.

“We are excited and thankful for the opportunity to play in the WBI,” head coach Lisa Carlsen said via press release. “This team has done a lot of great things this season and beaten some really good teams. We look forward to having another chance to compete together and show what we can do.”

Playing some of its finest basketball in seasons, Northern Illinois earned a 16-14 overall record en route to a sixth-place finish in the MAC standings. The Huskies’ 2022-23 season not only saw an improvement from last season’s win total, but it also featured statement wins against DePaul, Toledo, Bowling Green, and Ball State. Lisa Carlsen’s group was led to its successful season by the play of A’Jah Davis. The senior forward averaged an impressive 16.3 and 12.5 rebounds per game during the regular season, and was named to the All-MAC First Team. In addition to Davis, the Huskies benefited from Chelby Koker’s production as the senior guard earned All-MAC Second Team recognition.

The Huskies will battle a surging Georgia Southern squad that is coming off a 20-8 regular season mark. The Eagles earned their 20-win campaign after emerging victoriously in seven of its final nine outings. Junior guard Terren Ward was a consistent threat to her opponents all season as she logged 18.2 points and 8.4 rebounds per game. Ward earned All-Sun Belt First Team honors, and the Huskies will need to contain her to find the winning end of the first-round matchup.

California Baptist, North Dakota, University of Illinois-Chicago, New Mexico State, Florida International, and East Tennessee State round out the field.

The entire WBI tournament will be live-streamed online at at a cost of $10 per game, and tickets can be purchased at the door for $20 per day.