Senior Katie Frerking (above) is a key performer for Auburn as the top scorer and rebounder.
Auburn, Ala.--The Auburn women’s basketball team received good news on Monday evening when it learned it is heading to Austin, Tex., for an opening round NCAA Tournament contest vs. North Carolina State.
Tipoff is set for 11 a.m. CDT on Friday at the Frank Erwin Center on the University of Texas campus with television coverage on ESPN2. The winner of the game will play on Sunday vs. the winner of No. 3 seed Texas (23-8) vs. No. 14 seed Central Arkansas (26-4).
The Tigers, considered a bubble team for an invitation, got into the field as a No. 11 seed with a 17-14 record.
North Carolina State, a No. 6 seed, has a 22-8 record and was 12-4 in the Atlantic Coast Conference.
This is the 20th time Auburn has received an NCAA Tournament bid. The Tigers are 30-19 in the event with three trips to the national championship game where they finished as the runner-up in 1988, 1989 and 1990.
Auburn got the bid despite a six-game losing streak in February and an opening round loss to Georgia in the SEC Tournament.
For Coach Terri Williams-Flournoy this is a second consecutive appearance in the NCAA Tournament. Last year her Tigers opened with a victory over St. John’s before losing to Baylor. She has a 4-3 record in NCAA Tournament games.
“The wait this year was a little bit tougher because of the way we felt ourselves,” Williams-Flournoy said. “We felt so much disappointment in ourselves because of the way that we (finished the season). You look at the things we accomplished this year--being ranked in the Top 25, beating Tennessee for the first time since 2009. Our RPI and our strength of schedule were unbelievable, we went out there and we played some of the toughest teams in the country. We were just doing everything (right), then at the end of the season it was like, ‘Oh no. This is not supposed to happen.’
“I think the committee rewarded us for doing exactly what they want teams to do, and that’s kudos to (senior woman administrator) Meredith Jenkins as well," Coach Flo said. "Meredith kept emphasizing playing a tough schedule. You want to be in the mix at the end, you’ve got to play a tough schedule. Some we won, some we didn’t. You look at our non-conference, Drake has not lost since they lost to us. West Virginia goes through and wins the whole Big 12. We played some tough teams.”
The Tigers and Wolfpack have five common opponents. Auburn defeated Indiana (71-67) and LSU (54-49) while losing to Virginia Tech (87-92), Kansas State (66-71) and Tulane (59-61). North Carolina State defeated Virginia Tech (85-71) and Indiana (84-70) while losing to Kansas State (50-67), LSU (58-59) and Tulane 58-63).
Terri Williams-Flournoy is in her fifth season at Auburn.
This will be Coach Flo’s second trip to the NCAA Tournament as Auburn’s head coach and her fourth overall. She led Georgetown to a Sweet 16 berth in 2011 and a trip to the second round in 2012. She is 3-2 as a head coach in the NCAA Tournament. Last year the Tigers entered the tournament as a No. 8 seed with a 19-12 record.
Auburn is led by senior guard Katie Frerking, who averages 15.9 points and 6.4 rebounds per game. A member of the All-SEC Defensive Team and a second team all-conference pick, she has 80 steals and 30 blocked shots.
“I had a feeling it was going to come down to the last region,” Frerking said. “We’ve prepared like we’re going to the NCAA Tournament. We believed we were an NCAA team, and you’ve got to prepare for what’s coming your way. The thing about the NCAA Tournament is, it’s a big stage, but at the end of the day you’re still playing a basketball game. I think we’ll be able to focus on that considering the experience we have from last year.”
Another senior guard, Brandy Montgomery, is averaging 13.7 points per contest. Sophomore point guard Janiah McKay is averaging 13.0 points per outing.