Lady Tigers headed to WNIT

The Lady Tigers were selected for the WNIT. The new Arena will also play host to the first round of the Women's NCAA

Auburn’s players and coaches had to wait nearly two weeks to learn their postseason fate after a first-round loss to Mississippi State in the SEC Tournament on March 3.

Their answer came late Monday night. And in the form of a team they haven’t played in 21 years.

The Tigers (15-15) open the Women’s NIT with a trip to Cookeville, Tenn., to take on Tennessee Tech (23-7) on Thursday night, at a time that has yet to be determined.

“It’s definitely good to finally know,” Tigers coach Nell Fortner said. “It’s kind of nerve-wracking to wait.”

So Fortner knows the where and when. Now she’s just got to figure out the who.

The Golden Eagles posted a 15-3 record in the Ohio Valley Conference during the season, falling to UT Martin, 82-76, in the conference tournament final.

Auburn is 4-1 all-time against Tennessee Tech, including a 2-0 mark in Cookeville, and won the last meeting between the two teams 73-54 in the first round of the 1990 NCAA Tournament.

Tacarra Hayes is the Golden Eagles’ do-everything player, averaging 16.8 points, 7.7 rebounds and 4.7 assists per game this year.

Fortner is sure she’ll learn a bunch about her in the coming days.

“I just found out (who we’re playing) about 5 minutes ago,” Fortner said Monday night. “I’ll be on the Internet here in just a second. We’ll know a little bit more before we practice tomorrow morning.”

The winner of the game will take on the winner of Delaware (20-13) and Toledo (23-8) in the second round.

Even though her team didn’t make the NCAA Tournament the year it’s hosting, Fortner believes the Tigers still have something to play for.

“We’re excited about playing in the postseason,” Fortner said. “We’re so young, and just them being able to continue playing is a good thing. Of course, it’s the NCAA Tournament we’d love to play in. But we’re just excited to continue to play.”

dmorrison@oanow.com | 737-2568

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