Kent State is headed in the WNIT for the second time in three years.
The Flashes were one of 32 teams announced Monday. Pairings will come later tonight. First-round games will be played on campus sites Wednesday through Friday. Game times will be announced Tuesday.
Kent State will definitely be on the road. Teams bid a minimum of $6,500 to host a home game, and KSU decided not to do that.
The WNIT tries to minimum travel expense and missed class time in the first round. So the initial games are almost always played within driving distance. Best guess is the Flashes could be as close as Ohio State and Cincinnati or as far away as Butler (Indiana) or Georgetown (Washington, D.C.).
MAC teams Ohio, Miami and Toledo also are in the WNIT field. Ohio was one of the last teams out in NCAA selection.
Central Michigan and Buffalo made the NCAA field.
Two years ago, Kent State lost to eventual-champion Michigan in the first round of the WNIT 67-60.
“To get there two out of our first three years means a lot,” Starkey said. “We always have high expectations, but it was a long shot to do that right out of the gate.
“I think for us to make this field speaks volumes about this program. We did it in what was supposed to be a rebuilding year with five freshmen. It means we’re recruiting well, we’re developing players and doing things that can really lead to future success.”
Kent’s upperclassmen, Starkey said, “know how hard it is to get in the WNIT.”
“The freshmen will be excited about it,” he said. “But I think they also will learn to appreciate it even more the longer they’re here.”
On Wednesday, the Flashes lost to eventual champion Buffalo 85-52 in the quarterfinals of the MAC tournament. It was KSU’s worst margin of defeat this season and came five days after Kent had upset the Bulls 62-53 in the last game of the regular season. But Starkey said the team is putting that behind them.
“We knew beating Buffalo twice in one week was was going to be a tall order,” he said. “They’re a better team than us. So we move on.”
The team took a few days off and has had good practices the last two days, he said.
Here’s the WNIT post announcing the field: