The field of 64 for the NCAA Division I Women’s Tournament is set, and the University of Central Arkansas Sugar Bears are ready to make teams aware of their presence.
“We’re trying to put UCA on the map, and we’re going to do anything and everything to do that,” Kendara Watts said after the Sugar Bears learned of their seeding at Monday’s watch party.
The Sugar Bears were ranked the No. 18 team on collegeinsider.com’s top 25 mid-major poll on March 8. one place behind the Southland Conference’s regular-season champion Abilene Christian University, which is ineligible for postseasoon because of the transition from Division II to Division I.
When it was announced early in Monday’s selection show on ESPN that UCA would be the No. 14 seed and play the No. 3 seed Louisville at Louisville, the Sugar Bears and fans were jovial.
“It’s very exciting. It’s not necessarily what we expected, but we’ll be fine,” Maggie Proffitt said. “They’ve been great for a few years, so it will definitely be fun to play there in a great atmosphere.”
However, Louisville is no easy task and Rushing reminded her players that after complimenting her staff.
“I want to thank my staff, they are tremendous and put in long hours,” UCA coach Sandra Rushing said. “Ladies, you’ve worked for this and you deserve this and I appreciate your hard work. You all are true champions, but the season is not over and we have business to take care of.”
UCA will play Louisville at 1:30 p.m. CT Friday. A victory would put it against DePaul or James Madison on Sunday. The next round of the regional, which has Baylor as the No. 1 seed, will be in Dallas.
Despite the challenge of playing in the biggest stage any of the players have experienced, the Sugar Bears said they are treating the opening matchup like another game.
“We’re excited and up for the challenge, so we’ll prepare like every other game,” Watts said.
Going back to work before the game is the only thing UCA can do right now.
“She (Rushing) definitely expects nothing less than our best,” Proffitt said. “We’re just going to go in, play as hard as we can and up to her standards and see how it goes.”
It is UCA’s first appearance in the NCAA basketball tournament as a Division I member.
(Staff Writer Andy Robertson can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 505-1246. To comment on this and other stories in the Log Cabin, log on to www.thecabin.net. Send us your news at www.thecabin.net/submit.)