After the initial disappointment of being denied a chance to host a regional, UT Tyler women's basketball coach Kevin Baker said his Patriots are back on track and focused on the task at hand.
The Patriots, ranked No. 13 in the nation, received an at-large bid to participate in the NCAA Division III Tournament and Baker said his squad is relishing the challenge.
"It has been an amazing year," Baker said. "… Anytime your team is invited to the NCAA Tournament where there is 430 teams in Division III and 64 are selected it is a good day for your program. We didn't pout long (after falling in the ASC championship game to rival UT Dallas and not being selected as a host for the regional).
"After we left the locker room, we knew what was next for us because of our body of work, four months of work, not our weekend of work. It is a tremendous opportunity to go to the NCAA Tournament."
The Patriots (26-2) are competing in the Richardson Regional at the UTD Recreational Center with host and No. 24 UT Dallas (24-4), Rhodes College (20-8) of Memphis, Tennessee, and Southwestern University (15-12) of Georgetown.
The tourney was originally scheduled for Friday and Saturday, but will be now be Saturday and Sunday because of inclement weather in the Dallas area.
UT Tyler, the American Southwest Conference regular season champion, takes on the Pirates of Southwestern in a 3 p.m. first-round matchup Saturday. UTD takes on Rhodes at 5 p.m.
The winners meet at 3 p.m. Sunday with a berth in the Sweet 16 on the line.
Southwestern won the Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference.
The Patriots have won 21 of their past 22 games and captured the ASC regular season for the second consecutive year. They can match their team record of 27wins set in 2014 with another victory.
The Patriots are 2-1 in the NCAA Tournament and reached the Sweet 16 last year becoming the first ASC team to reach the Sweet 16 since 2008.
UT Tyler dropped its only meeting against Southwestern (68-67) on Nov. 24, 2007. The Patriots are 2-1 against Rhodes with one meeting coming in the NCAA Tournament last year in the second round with the Patriots advancing to the Sweet 16 with a 77-74 win in Memphis.
The Patriots are led by senior forward Brittany King of Mesquite. She was recently named to the All-ASC first-team as well as the All-Defensive team. Sophomore guard Michelle Obach, a graduate of Bishop Gorman, was third team and Newcomer of the Year. Senior Teylor Seals earned third team honors as well.
King is one of three ASC players to score more than 400 points this season (424), ranking third in the conference. King also led the league in rebounds (257) and field goal percentage (.591). Seals ranked 10th in assists (75) and 22nd in scoring (10.7). Obach ranked second in steals (66), third in assists (113) and led the ASC in assist-turnover ratio (2.1).
The Patriots ended the regular season as one of the highest scoring teams in NCAA Division III. Texas-Tyler ranked seventh in total points (2,003), eighth in points per game (80.1) and scoring margin (plus 22.5).
With a 71-58 win over Trinity University in Sunday's SCAC Championship game in Irving, Southwestern captured their first SCAC conference title since 1998. It is also their first NCAA bid since 1998.
SU and UT Tyler have played nine similar opponents this season. UTT has a 14-2 record against those opponents while Southwestern sits at 6-7.
Jordan Owens, a senior from Richardson, leads the Pirates. The 6-1 senior forward is averaging 17.1 points and shoots 82 percent at the free throw line.
Other top players for the Pirates are 6-0 senior forward Annie Bourne of Dallas (the SCAC Defensive Player of the year who averages 11.8 points and 12.8 rebounds) and 5-3 senior point guard Valerie Logan of Kingwood (averages 4.7 assists per game).
PATRIOT POINTS: The winner of the Richardson regional plays the winner from the Newberg, Oregon site for a chance to advance to the Elite Eight. No. 3 George Fox (27-0), the Northwest Conference Champion, will serve as host of the Newberg Regional. Penn State-Abington (22-5), the North Eastern Athletic Conference champion, will tip against George Fox in the first round. No. 18 Puget Sound (23-4) of Tacoma, Washington, from the Northwest Conference, received an at-large bid and will face Claremont-Mudd-Scripps (24-3) of Claremont, California, the Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference champion. … Tickets for the NCAA Tournament are available for purchase at the UTD Recreation Center on the UT Dallas campus. Admission prices are $10 for adults, $5 for college students or younger with children two or under admitted free of charge.