ETSU women’s basketball makes first postseason appearance since 2018
LEXINGTON, Ky. (March 16, 2023) – A record-setting women’s basketball season for ETSU comes to a fever pitch this weekend, as the Bucs will join seven other teams in Lexington, Ky. for the 13th annual Women’s Basketball Invitational (WBI) set to begin March 17 at the Clive M. Beck Center.
The Bucs will take on Florida International in the first round of the tournament at 12 p.m. All eight teams are guaranteed three games — one per day. The winner of ETSU/FIU will face the winner of New Mexico State and UIC on Saturday at 2:30 p.m. The loser will enter the consolation bracket and will play Saturday at 12 p.m.
All WBI games will be live streamed at www.watchwbi.com for $10 per day. Tickets will be available at the door and can be purchased for $20 per day. For more information and further updates, please check the official website and on Twitter @PostseasonWBI.
MATCHUP INFO — WBI FIRST ROUND
Friday, March 17, 2023 – ETSU vs. FIU
Time: 12 p.m.
Location: Lexington, Ky.
Venue: Clive M. Beck Center (Transylvania University)
Watch: PrepSpin ($10 - one day pass or $30 – full tournament pass)
Radio: WXSM-AM 640
Radio Broadcaster: Keith Brake (PxP)
Live Stats: StatBroadcast
Tickets: $20 – at the gate
Tournament Central: www.womensbasketballinvitational.com
THE 2023 WBI FIELD
- ETSU will join FIU, New Mexico State, UIC, California Baptist, North Dakota, Georgia Southern and Northern Illinois to make up the 2023 WBI tournament field.
- This will be ETSU’s first time in the WBI, joining NMSU, Cal Baptist, Georgia Southern and NIU as first time entries. UIC is the only team in the field to have won a previous WBI, doing so in 2014. North Dakota will make its fourth appearance in the WBI, while FIU is the most recent team to appear in a WBI — doing so in 2021 for the first time.
- Past WBI champions include Appalachian State (2010, 2019), UAB (2011), Minnesota (2012), Detroit (2013), UIC (2014), Louisiana (2015, 2016), Rice (2017), Yale (2018), Cleveland State (2021) and Saint Mary’s (2022).
- The only opponent ETSU has faced all-time in the field is former Southern Conference rival Georgia Southern with 29 meetings. The Eagles lead the all-time series 18-11. Any of the other six opponents would be first time meetings for ETSU.
- This will not be the first WBI for first year ETSU head coach Brenda Mock Brown. Coach Mock led UNC Asheville to four straight postseason appearances from 2016-2019 — two back-to-back NCAA tournaments and two back-to-back WBIs. Mock’s Bulldogs were eliminated in the WBI first round both times by a combined three points, falling 65-64 to Furman in 2018 and 57-55 to eventual champion App State in 2019.
- For the first time in her collegiate career, true freshman Jaileyah Cotton (Bardstown, Ky.) will play in her home state of Kentucky.
ETSU POSTSEASON HISTORY
- The Blue & Gold will make their first appearance in a postseason tournament since the 2018 Women’s National Invitational Tournament (WNIT), which resulted in a first-round appearance at James Madison. The Bucs also hosted a round of the 2015 WNIT, falling to NC State in the first round.
- ETSU’s last NCAA tournament appearance came in 2010, a first-round appearance that ended with a competitive loss to Xavier in Cincinnati, Ohio. ETSU also made first-round appearances in 2008 and 2009 with losses to Oklahoma State and Iowa State.
- This weekend, the Bucs will seek their first postseason win since 1995 — a 79-65 win over VCU in the WNIT hosted in Amarillo, Texas.
ABOUT THE BUCS
- ETSU finished the SoCon Championships with a semifinal appearance, defeating No. 6 Samford in the quarterfinal round before falling to eventual conference champion No. 2 Chattanooga.
- The Bucs currently have a 23-9 record — tied for the best in school history along with the 2009-10 team that last represented ETSU in the NCAA tournament.
- This season and the 2009-10 season are also tied with two others for the fewest losses in a season all-time (since expanding the schedule to over 15 games in 1974-75).
- The Bucs have only reached 21 wins in a single season five times. The first was the historic 1994-95 season, followed by the 2007-08 season and the record-holding 2009-10 season that brought ETSU’s last NCAA tournament appearance. Outside of this season, the other was in 2014-15.
- Four players were named to the SoCon all-conference teams from ETSU. Graduate guard Jiselle Thomas (Norwalk, Ohio) led the way with a first-team selection from both the coaches and media, finishing with 16.7 PPG in conference games and 15.4 PPG in the regular season to rank among the league leaders.
- Sophomore Kendall Folley (Lebanon, Ohio) — a two-time SoCon Player of the Week — was named to the league’s second team by both the coaches and media, while also earned all-defensive team honors. Folley averaged 14.2 PPG in league play and ranked fourth in field goal percentage (48.2). Defensively, she had 39 steals in the regular season to rank fourth in the conference.
- True freshman Journee McDaniel (New Bern, N.C.) was named to the SoCon all-freshman team by the SoCon Sports Media Association (SCSMA). McDaniel ranked second behind SoCon Freshman of the Year Raven Thompson among freshman in rebounding, while ranking second on the Bucs with 16 blocks.
- Sophomore post Jakhyia Davis (Knoxville, Tenn.) was named to the all-tournament second team by the SoCon, finishing with an average of 12.5 points and 8.5 rebounds over two tournament games.
- This season, ETSU had two players earn College Sports Communicators (CSC) Academic All-District honors in sophomore guard Courtney Moore (Gainesville, Fla.) and graduate post Jayla Ruffus-Milner (North Hills, Calif.).
- Leading the nation’s best turnaround this season, first year Buccaneer head coach Brenda Mock Brown was voted by her peers as the SoCon Coach of the Year. Coach Mock also had one of the most storied turnarounds of all-time at UNC Asheville in 2016, improving by 15 games to rank fifth all-time in NCAA D1 Women’s Basketball history. This year, the Bucs went from six wins last season to 22 already this season — a 17-win improvement to lead all of NCAA D1 Women’s Basketball.
- ETSU has already broken the school record for best win improvement from season-to-season, going from six wins last season to 23 already this season. The 15-win improvement broke the previous school record of 12 set in the 2014-15 season.
- A few weeks ago, ETSU nailed a school-record 16 made three-pointers in an 83-45 win over Wofford. The previous record of 15 was set back in ETSU’s last NCAA Tournament appearance in 2010 against Xavier. ETSU also netted 15 threes against North Florida in 2006. Entering that night, ETSU was averaging six made threes per game.
- Since the start of the program in 1968, ETSU has never had a season that brought five separate four-game win streaks (or longer). ETSU enjoyed two four-game win streaks to start 8-2 overall, then had a five-game win streak to improve to 13-3. After a rocky start to SoCon play, ETSU won four in a row to improve to 17-6. The most recent win streak ended near the end of the regular season at four games. The last time ETSU had three win streaks of four or more games was the 2014-15 season that produced a 21-12 overall record.
- For 10 straight weeks, ETSU either received votes or earned a ranking in the College Insider Women’s Mid-Major Top 25 Poll. That streak ended at the end of the regular season.
- The Bucs set three more new school records this season, including the fewest points allowed in a game (26) and largest margin of victory (69) against Virginia-Lynchburg. In similar fashion, the Bucs also set a new record for fewest points combined in a gritty 44-31 win over Vanderbilt inside Brooks Gym.
- The Bucs finished non-conference play with a 13-3 record — the best non-conference finish in modern era program history. That era began when the SoCon began sponsoring a women’s basketball championship in 1983-84 — the same season ETSU finished with 11 non-conference wins.
- ETSU finished the regular season with the 20th best scoring defense in the nation, allowing just 55.7 PPG.
- This season, ETSU has secured its first winning campaign since 2018, where the team finished 20-13 overall, 11-3 in the SoCon and made an appearance in the WNIT. ETSU has made three NCAA tournament appearances all-time (2008, 2009, 2010), four WNIT appearances (1995, 2006, 2015, 2018) and will now add its first WBI appearance in 2023.
ABOUT THE PANTHERS
- FIU enters the tournament with a 12-18 record, losing the last eight games against a tough Conference USA schedule.
- This year marks the second postseason berth in just three seasons for head coach Jesyka Burks-Wiley at FIU. The Panthers went 2-1 in the 2021 WBI, defeating Abilene Christian and Manhattan to win the consolation tournament title two seasons ago.
- The Panthers finished the season as one of the top scoring teams in C-USA averaging 69.0 points per game, while making the fifth most three pointers in the conference (183). FIU finished second in C-USA, averaging 38.8 rebounds per game and led the league with 14.7 offensive boards per game. Both FIU and ETSU are among the nation’s Top 30 in offensive rebounding.
- Senior guard and Tampa native Kaliah Henderson leads FIU with 15.7 points per game. She is also the second-leading rebounder on the team at 4.4 RPG behind senior center Hope Butera at 5.7 boards per contest.
- This will be the first all-time meeting between FIU and ETSU.
- One player that has been on both sides of this matchup is ETSU’s Jiselle Thomas, who spent two seasons at FIU from 2019-2021 and averaged 16.9 PPG for the Panthers as a redshirt junior.
- Current ETSU assistant coach Joe Silvestri also spent time at FIU before joining the Buccaneers last season. During that time, he was named to the Inaugural “30-Under-30” list by the Women's Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA) in 2016.
For more information on Buccaneer women’s hoops, visit ETSUBucs.com and click on the women’s basketball tab.