Vandals get UConn in NCAA opener

Vandals get UConn in NCAA opener »Play Video
MOSCOW – There are 345 teams that compete in NCAA Division I women’s basketball, and the 2012-13 national championship dream is over for 281 of them. Western Athletic Conference champion Idaho, however, is among the 64 teams to qualify for the 2013 NCAA women’s basketball tournament, and the 16th seeded Vandals will face No. 1 seed UCONN on March 23 at 11:30 a.m. (MT). It is the first NCAA tournament bid for the program since 1985, when the Vandals fell 74-51 in the first round at USC in their only other appearance.

Also in the Storrs, Conn., regional are 8 seed Vanderbilt and 9 seed St. Joseph’s. Idaho’s (17-15) game against UCONN (29-4) will be broadcast live on ESPN2.

“I’ve seen them play on TV, that’s for sure,” Newlee said of UCONN. “I know they’re big and physical and athletic, and they can shoot. Obviously we’re going to have to bring our best effort out there to Storrs on Saturday.”

The Vandals enter the NCAA tournament with a 17-15 overall record, and knocked off the top two teams from the WAC regular season -- Utah State and Seattle U – on back-to-back days in the WAC tournament to punch their ticket to the Big Dance.

“We’re playing our best basketball of the year right now,” Idaho coach Jon Newlee said, with his team coming off a WAC championship run in Las Vegas. “We went down to Las Vegas on a mission and our team really came together during that week and won three really close games with all the pressure on. The way we performed down there was something we’ve been talking about all year. We finished playing our best basketball and that’s what you want to do.”