DURHAM, N.H. – The University of New Hampshire women's basketball team has accepted an invitation to play in the 2012 Women's Basketball Invitational and will travel to Worcester, Mass. to play the College of the Holy Cross on Thursday, March 15 at 7 p.m. The Wildcats earned the East No. 5 seed and are one of 16 teams invited to participate in the third annual postseason tournament.
New Hampshire will participate in postseason play for just the second time in program history, and the first since the 1998-99 season when the Wildcats fell to Arkansas State in the opening round of the WNIT Tournament. UNH is the first team from the America East to play in the WBI, a 16-team, single elimination tournament created in 2010. The WBI field is divided into two regions with each game played at the higher seed.
UNH (16-13) enters the WBI after falling to UMBC, 59-57, in the America East quarterfinals. Senior Denise Beliveau (Framingham, Mass.), an America East All-Conference First Team and All-Defensive Team selection, leads the Wildcats with 8.6 rebounds per game and ranks second in scoring (13.8). Junior Morgan Frame (Waterville, Maine) earned America East Second Team honors and boasts a team-best 16.3 points per game. The Wildcats earned the East No. 5 seed and are 7-14 all-time against No. 4 Holy Cross. The two teams met earlier this season when the Crusaders picked up a 61-50 victory at Lundholm Gymnasium.
Holy Cross stands at 18-14 overall and most recently fell to Navy, 57-48, in the Patriot League Championship game. Sophomore Alex Smith averages 12.6 points per game and was named to the Patriot League First Team, while junior Amy Lepley was named to the second team and leads the squad in both scoring (13.4) and rebounding (6.4). Freshman Emily Parker earned a spot on the all-rookie team after contributing 10.0 points per contest.
The New Hampshire-Holy Cross winner will face either top-seeded Robert Morris or No. 8 Manhattan in the quarterfinals on March 17 or 18. The WBI semifinals are scheduled for March 21 and 22, while the championship game will take place on either March 24 or 25. UAB won the WBI title last season and Appalachian State captured the inaugural tournament in 2010.