Fresno State - Hayley Munro and Taja Edwards knew the Fresno State women's basketball team was going to the NCAA Tournament. After nipping Louisiana Tech in last weekend's WAC Tournament championship game, that much was certain.
Yet as the teammates sat side-by-side inside the Josephine Theatre on Monday afternoon, both couldn't help but notice their palms were feeling a bit clammy.
"This is our fourth time doing this," Munro said, "and we're still as nervous as the first time."
With news cameras bearing down and ESPN's Selection Show unfolding on a big-screen television before them, it didn't take long for that anticipation to turn to jubilation. The Bulldogs received a No. 12 seed in the Spokane Region and a first-round date with No. 5 North Carolina. They will begin their postseason adventure Saturday at The Pit in Albuquerque, N.M. The game will be broadcast on ESPN2.
Fresno State (25-7) is making its fourth consecutive trip to the Big Dance, something head coach Adrian Wiggins is calling "a good habit." That said, the Bulldogs are now doing so with their highest seed in program history.
"I think it shows everyone that over the past three years Fresno State teams have put in work," Edwards said. "We're playing really good basketball, honestly."
Indeed. Fresno State heads to Albuquerque riding an impressive 10-game winning streak and playing its best basketball of the season. And while the Bulldogs are 0-3 all-time in the tournament, this group is intent on enjoying a prolonged stay.
Just as the back of their T-shirts read Monday, "We want more."
"We've had that goal now since the first year," senior point guard Emma Andrews said. "We're seniors, and now that goal seems bigger and bigger. It's our last chance to do it, so it's got to be done."
No doubt, the Tar Heels present a tough first test. North Carolina (26-8) finished the season ranked No. 14 in the Associated Press Top 25 poll. The Tar Heels advanced to the ACC championship game before falling to No. 6 Duke 81-66. Senior guard Italee Lucas averages 16.2 points per game, good for fourth in the conference.
Wiggins' North Carolina study session began almost immediately, but he said Fresno State should benefit from its nonconference run-ins with powers Stanford and Oklahoma
"Those games help take away some of that mystique," Wiggins said. "With this group, it's not paying off to look too far down the road. I think they're anxious. Not overconfident, not scared. We're ready to go play a little bit."