FRESNO, Calif. – Monday was a long day for the players and many of the coaches of the Fresno State women’s basketball team. The anticipation on whether or not the team would get the program’s first-ever at-large berth to the NCAA tournament was high.
The Bulldogs (27-6) received the good news 30 minutes into the selection show that was broadcast on ESPN that they had earned a No. 13 seed and will play No. 4 seeded Baylor (23-9) on Saturday in Berkeley, Calif., on the campus of the University of California. Once Fresno State was announced the student-athletes, coaches and fans that were in attendance erupted in jubilation.
“Today was very long and tough to focus,” Fresno State guard Jaleesa Ross said. “This year wasn’t a for sure where the last two years we knew our name was going to come up. It was an awesome feeling. It was like weight was lifted off our shoulders. We are excited to still be playing.”
Tipoff at Haas Pavilion will be at 7:30 p.m. Pacific Time after the No. 5 seeded Georgetown Hoyas play No. 12 seeded Marist. This is only the third time since 2000 that the WAC has had two teams in the NCAA tournament.
This isn’t the first time Fresno State and Baylor have played in the NCAA Tournament. The teams played in the 2008 tournament at the University of New Mexico. Fresno State was a No. 14 seed and the Bears were a No. 3 seed and the Bears won 88-67.
Playing as a freshman in the NCAA tournament is something Ross has not forgot.
“It brings back the things I have learned and the things I have changed to be able to compete at this level to help my team out,” Ross said.