VILLANOVA, Pa.--The women’s basketball team was rewarded for its outstanding 2017-18 season with an at-large selection to the NCAA Tournament during a live selection show on ESPN Monday night. Villanova (22-8) is the No. 9 seed in the Spokane Region and will play a first round game against No. 8 seed South Dakota State (26-6) in South Bend, Ind. on Friday at 7:30 p.m. on ESPN2.
It was apparent right from the beginning of the season that the year would be a special one for the Wildcats, who raced out of the gate with 10 straight wins to earn a national ranking in the Associated Press Top 25 for the first time since the 2004-05 campaign. Villanova defeated No. 11 Duke during that stretch to open the season, then went on to post a 12-6 record in BIG EAST play and earn the No. 3 seed in the conference tournament.
Wildcats head coach Harry Perretta was named the BIG EAST Co-Coach of the Year for the team’s performance this season, while senior guard Alex Louin and sophomore forward Mary Gedaka also earned postseason BIG EAST honors. Louin was a second team All-BIG EAST selection and Gedaka was a unanimous pick as the BIG EAST Sixth Woman of the Year. She also was named an honorable mention all-conference performer.
The depth of the Villanova roster has been the team’s recipe for success this season. Louin leads the team with 12.0 points per game, but is one of four players who average in double figures. She also averages a team-best 6.9 rebounds per contest and is second on the team with 83 assists. Gedaka has contributed 11.6 points and 5.1 rebounds per game while coming off the bench in all but one game on the year. Sophomore guard Kelly Jekot and junior guard Adrianna Hahn average 11.3 and 10.7 points per game, respectively.
This is the 11th time in program history and the first time since 2013 that the Wildcats are headed to the NCAA Tournament. It is the 16th time in the last 19 years overall that Villanova has qualified for a national postseason tournament. In their 10 previous appearances in the NCAA Tournament, the Wildcats have tallied a 7-10 record. Villanova was previously a No. 8 seed when it last made the tournament five seasons ago.
Awaiting the Wildcats in the first round will be South Dakota State, who has won 26 games this season and captured the Summit League championship. The Jackrabbits were 12-2 in conference play during the regular season and have won 10 of their past 11 games. Redshirt junior guard Macy Miller leads a high-powered South Dakota State offense which is averaging 78.3 points per game. Miller averages 18.1 points and 5.7 rebounds per game, while junior guard Madison Guebert is averaging 14.8 points per contest.
On the other side of the Villanova bracket is a first round game between No. 1 seed Notre Dame (29-3) and No. 16 seed Cal State Northridge (19-15). The winner of that game will play the winner of the Villanova-South Dakota State game on Sunday, and that game’s winner will advance to a regional semifinal in Spokane, Wash. on March 24.