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Cowgirls to host Northern Colorado Thursday in WNIT

Mar 19, 2013 - The Associated Press

The University of Wyoming Cowgirls are back in postseason play. And they get to welcome some old friends in the process.

The Cowgirls were chosen for the 64-team Women's National Invitation Tournament field on Monday.

Wyoming (24-7) will host Northern Colorado at 7 p.m. on Thursday at the Arena-Auditorium.

The Bears (20-12) are coached by former Wyoming Cowgirls assistant Jaime White. Freshman guard Kyleigh Hiser, who led Laramie High to the Class 4A state championship last year, is a backup for the team. Also on the team is former Casper Natrona standout Stephanie Lee.

White was an assistant under UW coach Joe Legerski for three seasons from 2003 to 2006 before being named head coach at Northern Colorado.

UW and UNC played in both the 2005-06 and 06-07 seasons, but haven't met since then.

"We are excited to have the opportunity to play at this time of the season," Legerski said in a news release.

"This now makes six years that the Wyoming program has played in postseason in my time here. We look forward to the challenges ahead.

"The ability to host a game reflects the commitment by our administration and our great fan support."

Wyoming will make its seventh appearance in the WNIT and will play in the tournament for the fifth time in the last eight years.

The Cowgirls are 11-7 all-time in the WNIT, including a memorable run to the WNIT championship in 2007, winning six straight games.

San Diego State also received a bid to the WNIT from the Mountain West after not getting a bid to the NCAA tournament earlier on Monday.

Wyoming, SDSU and conference champion Fresno State are the only MW teams to play in postseason this year.

Thursday's winner will advance to play the winner of the St. Mary's-Seattle University game in a second-round game March 23-25.

Pokes in CBI

Larry Nance Jr. posed the question on his Twitter account.

"Who wants to go win a tournament," he asked.

The University of Wyoming sophomore forward was talking about the Cowboys' invitation to the 16-team College Basketball Invitational, where they host Lehigh of the Patriot League at 7 p.m. today at the Arena-Auditorium in Laramie.

There was some speculation that UW would get invited to the 32-team National Invitation Tournament. That didn't happen, but it seems the rest of the players are on board to make the most of UW's second consecutive CBI appearance.

"We all are feeling really good right now," senior forward Leonard Washington said. "We are fortunate to have the opportunity to play in any tournament. We want to come out (today) and make the best of it."

Washington played a big role in UW winning 21 games last season and going 1-1 in the CBI. But for other returning players, this year's CBI is will be a different experience.

"It's an exciting, butterfly feeling for me," said sophomore guard Riley Grabau, who played limited minutes last season off the bench as a true freshman. "I get to start in my first postseason tournament game.

"I am thankful I am doing this as a sophomore. I am excited to play a CBI game, and hopefully we can make a better run than we did last year."

Coach Larry Shyatt said he gave the team two days off after its 59-46 loss to No. 10 New Mexico last Wednesday at the Mountain West Tournament in Las Vegas.

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