Oral Roberts ready to meet Lady Vols
BY JIMMIE TRAMEL World Sports Writer
Tuesday, March 19, 2013
3/19/13 at 7:43 AM
Oral Roberts University players have known since Saturday that they would be participating in the women's NCAA Tournament. The Golden Eagles clinched their trip by winning the Southland Tournament.
And, despite that, Selection Monday was still dramatic.
"I didn't know I would be that nervous, just waiting to see where we would go and who we would play," senior point guard Jaci Bigham said. "It just kind of built up."
The suspense lasted until the end of the selection show. Oral Roberts was the last school to pop up on the 64-team bracket and, finally, players were able to celebrate during a watch party at the Armand Hammer Student-Alumni Center.
ORU, a No. 15 seed, will play a Saturday first-round game against No. 2 seed Tennessee in Knoxville, Tenn.
"What a great scenario, to go to the most storied location in women's basketball," ORU first-year head coach Misti Cussen said.
"Obviously (Baylor is) doing incredible things in Waco, Texas, right now. We got to experience that in the nonconference this year.
"But to go to Knoxville, Tennessee, and play on Summitt Court, that's going to be an amazing experience. That's a part of basketball history that our girls will get to experience and will always get to talk about and tell their kids. We've got no pressure on us at all. We're on their home court and their fans are going to be loud and rowdy. ... We get to go and experience that and there is nothing bad that is going to come out of that."
ORU (18-12) will make its sixth NCAA Tournament appearance and first since 2008, when the opponent was Tennessee in West Lafayette, Ind.
Tennessee (24-7) is making its 32nd NCAA Tournament appearance and is the only program to go to the tournament in every year of its existence. The Lady Vols are 48-1 all-time in first- and second-round games, including 38-0 when playing first- and second-round games at home.
"It will be a great atmosphere, just a good time for women's basketball," Bigham said. "We're excited and we're ready to go down there and give it our best shot."
ORU players were noticeably relieved when they learned they would not be a first-round opponent of top-seeded defending national champion Baylor.
After the bracket was unveiled, Tennessee players and coaches were hit with questions about being placed in the same region as Baylor.
Tennessee coach Holly Warlick indicated her team can't afford to look ahead.
Said Warlick, "You cannot just think 'oh we're going to play Baylor.' You've got to take care of teams here. I've actually gotten the chance to watch (possible second-round opponent) Syracuse play and they're a great team. We've got big games ahead of us before we can even think about the Baylor matchup."
Oklahoma City Region
(2) Tennessee vs. (15) ORU
12:30 p.m. Saturday
At Knoxville, Tenn.
Original Print Headline: ORU ready to play Lady Vols
Jimmie Tramel 918-581-8389
ORU women's basketball players celebrate after being announced during the NCAA Tournament selection show Monday. RIP STELL / for the Tulsa World