WHO: USC Upstate at College of Charleston
What: WBI Tournament
When: Thursday, 7 p.m.
Where: TD Arena
The College of Charleston women's basketball team will still have a chance to cut down the nets after all.
The Cougars (17-14) accepted a bid to play in the Women's Basketball Invitational and will face USC Upstate (17-14) at TD Arena on Thursday beginning at 7 p.m.
"This group just wants to play basketball, they don't care where they play or what tournament they play in," said College of Charleston coach Natasha Adair. "We're thrilled to still be playing. It's an opportunity that every program looks forward to, and at the end of the day, we still have a chance to go out and win a championship and cut down the nets."
Adair thought the Cougars had a legitimate shot to play in the more prestigious Women's NIT, but were passed over. The WBI, however, was a nice consolation prize, Adair said. The Cougars played in the event a year ago, beating Northern Kentucky, 72-70, in the opening round and eventually losing to Detroit, 79-67, in the second round. This will be the third time the Cougars, who are the No. 2 seed in the West Region, have played in CBI in the last five seasons.
"We're not above any tournament," Adair said. "We played in it a year ago. It was a first-class event. We're at the mercy of the selection committees. Our goal is to eventually play in the NCAA Tournament, but it's a process. We're going to get there. This is a great opportunity for us."
The Cougars and Spartans have played each other already this season with Charleston taking a hard-fought 75-71 victory back in November. The Cougars had to rally from a 38-27 halftime deficit to beat the Spartans in Spartanburg. Afreyea Tolbert led Charleston with 16 points, while Alyssa Frye chipped in 13 points. College of Charleston leads the all-time series over Upstate 15-1 and holds a 7-1 advantage when playing in Charleston.
The Spartans are led by Brittany Clency, who averaged a team-high 11.8 points per game, while Brittany Starling averaged nearly a double-double with 10.6 points and 7.9 rebounds per game.
"They are a very scrappy team," Adair said. "They like to pressure the ball and get easy baskets in transition. We need to play at our pace against them."