Cowgirls, Sooners hit road for NCAAs; Cowboys left out of field
Jacie Hoyt qualified for one NCAA Tournament as a college basketball coach before she came to Oklahoma State last March.
Qualified for one, played in none. Barring something wildly unexpected, that changes this week.
Hoyt’s first Cowgirl squad earned an at-large berth Sunday to the NCAA Tournament as a No. 8 seed in the Greenville 2 Region and will play No. 9 Miami on Saturday in Bloomington, Ind.
The winner of the Cowgirls (21-11) vs. Hurricanes (19-12) would likely play top-seeded Indiana (27-3) on Monday.
In the previous five years as the head coach at Missouri-Kansas City, one of Hoyt’s teams qualified for one NCAA Tournament, winning the Western Athletic Conference in 2020 — which, of course, was wiped out by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Going to the NCAA Tournament is something that we all dream of,” Hoyt said. “That’s the whole point. At the start of the year that’s what it’s about.
“I’m incredibly excited. The only time as a head coach that I had an opportunity to get to do that was taken away by COVID, so that really taught me not to take things for granted and just to be incredibly present. I am going to do that. … I love the team that I get to do it with and share that memory with.”
OSU point guard Naomie Alnatas was a member of that 2020 UMKC team as well, and isn’t taking lightly the opportunity ahead of her and the Cowgirls.
“We get to play in the NCAA Tournament,” Alnatas said. “That’s something I was never able to experience.
“I am going to experience something that I only have heard about before.”
The Cowgirls are coming off a loss to Texas, which was the top seed of the Big 12 Tournament, but more importantly, OSU picked up a victory in the tournament, topping West Virginia on Terryn Milton’s last-second shot. That snapped a three-game losing streak for OSU, which goes into the NCAA opener with a 21-11 record.
The Cowgirls were picked to finish ninth in the Big 12’s preseason poll, yet climbed as high as third in the standings before landing in fourth. Hoyt’s first season has been full of overachieving moments.
It’s the journey the 35-year-old coach has enjoyed the most.
“No one thought that we would be in this position,” Hoyt said. “This team has overcome all odds and far exceeded anyone’s expectations, so I’m really excited.
“I know I’m exactly where I’m supposed to be, and I couldn’t be more thankful than to get to represent the Cowgirls.”
Sooners head to Los Angeles
OU women’s basketball is heading to Los Angeles.
The Sooners earned the No. 5 seed in the Greenville 1 Region.
OU will take on No. 12 Portland on Saturday in the opener.
With a win, the Sooners would take on the winner of No. 4 UCLA vs. No. 13 Sacramento State on Monday.
OU is 25-6, coming off an 82-72 loss to Iowa State in the semifinals of the Big 12 Tournament.
The Sooners are in the tournament for the second consecutive season under Jennie Baranczyk.
“We’re excited to continue our season in the NCAA Tournament,” Baranczyk said in a release. “The chance to keep playing with this team is special and what we’ve worked toward all season. We’re proud that we get to keep representing Oklahoma, and we look forward to next weekend.”
The Sooners were a No. 4 seed last season, playing at home and beating IUPUI 78-72 in the first round before falling to No. 5 Notre Dame 108-64 in the second round.
The Sooners are a No. 5 seed for the third time.
In 2015, the Sooners beat Quinnipiac in the first round before falling to No. 4 Stanford in the second round.
In 2000, the Sooners beat No. 12 BYU 86-81 in the first round in West Lafayette, Indiana, then beat No. 4 Purdue 76-74 before falling to top-seeded UConn in the Sweet 16.
The Pilots earned their berth after knocking off top-seeded Gonzaga in the finals of the West Coast Conference Tournament.
Portland is in the tournament for the sixth time. The Pilots are still searching for their first tournament victory.
Portland (23-8) last earned a bid in 2020, though that tournament was canceled.
Cowboys just miss NCAA field
Oklahoma State’s resume fell just short of the NCAA men’s basketball tournament.
The Cowboys were not selected to participate in March Madness on Sunday, missing out on a return to the field for the first time since 2021. OSU was the first team out, according to CBS’ broadcast.
“Well, when you look at their resume, they had 18 opportunities in the Quad 1 and they won only six games,” NCAA men’s basketball tournament chairman Chris Reynolds said on CBS. “They had opportunities in the non-conference to win some games to enhance their resume and they fell a little short.”
The Cowboys (18-15, 8-10 Big 12) have made just one NCAA Tournament appearance in six years under coach Mike Boynton, though one tournament was canceled. And last season the Cowboys were ineligible due to NCAA sanctions.
A loss to Southern Illinois — a Quad 3 team — in November left a huge dent on OSU’s chances this season. But a fivegame losing streak late in the regular season without star Avery Anderson III due to wrist surgery was the final blow.
OSU finished the season ranked No. 43 in NCAA NET Rankings. It was 6-12 in Quad 1 games largely due to the strength of the Big 12 Conference but 1014 in combined Quad 1 and 2 games.
Seven teams from the Big 12 made the NCAA Tournament, including West Virginia, which finished one game behind the Cowboys in the conference standings. Both teams split their headto-head matchups.
OSU was awaiting its NIT Tournament seeding, which was released late Sunday night.
❚ Oral Roberts is the lone team from Oklahoma to make the men’s tournament. The Summit League champion Golden Eagles (30-4) are the No. 12 seed in the East Region and will face fifthseeded Duke (26-8) on Thursday in Orlando, Fla.
❚ Alabama is the overall top seed in the NCAA men’s basketball tournament after cruising through the end of a season clouded by a murder case. Kansas, Houston and Purdue grabbed the other top seeds. Action in the 68-team tournament begins Tuesday with two games in the First Four. March Madness gets into full swing Thursday and Friday with 32 games spread over eight cities. The Final Four is set for April 1 and 3 at NRG Stadium in Houston.
❚ North Carolina started the year at No. 1 only to miss the NCAA Tournament. And that was enough for the Tar Heels to call it a season. The Tar Heels on Sunday officially became the first top-ranked team in The Associated Press preseason poll to miss March Madness since the field’s expansion to 64 teams in 1985. Shortly after the NCAA field of 68 teams was revealed, the school announced it had “chosen not to participate” in the NIT to end its season.